Well, I’ll give you four good reasons.
You make connections
Let’s say you write a free white paper that can help solve a problem, or respond to questions at Answers.com, or give a free health assessment at a train station. You are meeting people and making connections. Granted, most of them will go nowhere, and that’s OK, if you begin to connect with 2 – 3 % of those who accept your offer, you will soon find that you know a whole bunch of people who are interested in you and your talents. You would not have met them if they would have had payed for something, since they didn’t know you and the risk was high. By giving stuff away you reduce their risk to almost nothing and more people will take you up on it.
You get practice
One of the best ways to gain experience, especially in a new and untried area, is to give it away. Again, there’s no risk. A company might not be willing to offer you a big salary to come and sell for them, but a church or PTA fundraising committee would be overjoyed if you volunteered to help them. Now you’re gaining experience, getting better at the thing you want to do and creating stories that demonstrate your success to people who will now consider taking a risk.
When I was still getting certified as a coach, I began volunteering at the Career Transition Center of Chicago, with a little training, a lot of raw talent, and a willingness to work for free. 200+ clients later, it has been a wonderful use of my time, and it has led to paying gigs.
It feels good
Don’t underestimate this. It feels great to do something you really enjoy and have people appreciate it, even if you’re not getting paid. You’re doing “Your Thing,” that will make you feel strong (if it doesn’t, it might not be “Your Thing”), Important point here; don’t just do something because you have to and do it begrudgingly. Do something you love to do, and your joy and passion will attract attention. If you like to write, write a white paper or a blog. If you hate writing, do something else, like create websites or read to sick kids or talk about a favorite topic at a professional association.
It always comes back to you
You are investing in the “Good Karma Market”, which always pays out in the long run when something is offered with joy and love. It doesn’t always pay out the way you expect, or on the schedule you would like, but it never fails. That’s not to say you should give in order to get. You should give and trust that you will get what matters. It’s a subtle distinction, yet crucial.
To sum up, give because you:
- Make connections
- You get practice
- It feels good
- It always comes back to you
I heard a story (I wish I could remember where) that most people stand in front of the fireplace and say to the fire, “I’ll give you more wood when you start giving off more warmth.” We laugh, but that is the approach many of us take to our careers and lives. Some people, on finding the fire burning hotter by sheer luck, don’t even put more wood in at that point, yet we find ourselves surprised when our career is nothing but ash.
Don’t be this person. If you put in more wood first, the fire will give off more warmth. Give and give. You will surely receive.
(Photo credit: The open hands of woman via Shutterstock)
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