I think most people have the general misconception that successful people are self-absorbed and rarely help out others. You may have that sentiment, too, and feel like the only way you can get wealthy is to keep the focus on you and your work. While being self-absorbed may be true of some successful people (and can be true of anyone, successful or not), it’s certainly not the case of all of them.
In fact, most people become successful by helping others—by solving problems, reaching out and bringing people together. Yes, their success is also self-serving. But they’re also providing something of value to other people—a want or need.
While this is true up to a certain point—it’s good to have focus and drive—the better solution is to keep the core of your work on how to help others. Believe it or not, your work needs to have heart for the best outcome and I discuss why further in my article Have Heart and Your Business Will Grow.
Caring about your customers, the people you work with and society in general will bring out the best in you. It will show in your work and people will recognize that and be drawn to you. And when people are drawn to you, your success will grow.
Besides, people buy from people they know, like and trust. If you’re helping them, they can’t help but like you, get to know you and trust you. How do you create this winning trifecta? By following five key areas, which I’ve outlined below.
Paying Attention Brings In More Money
If you take the time to hear what other people are saying, and wanting, you can provide what they need. And when you provide someone with what they need, they’re going to value you. Once they value what you’re providing, you become their “go-to” person (or business) when they need a product or service like yours.
Let’s say, for example, that you want to start a business repairing computers. You could research the common problems that people have first. You could then focus on offering the services that fix those common problems—such as viruses. The common problems that you are now fixing can be the target of your marketing—from what you display prominently on your website to any print ads or social media that you do. And as customers bring their computers to you, you’ll want to listen intently to the exact nature of their problem and take good notes.
If you’re an employee and prefer to stay that way, you can still benefit from paying attention. You can dazzle your boss by clarifying what they’re searching for in your work, both for specific tasks and your role in general, as well as understanding the overall goals of the company you work for.
Reaching Out Can Make You Rich
But the work doesn’t stop there. Then, after the computer is fixed, you could send them a follow-up email or postcard to get feedback.
I did this with my education business. Once a year, I sent out a “How Are We Doing” questionnaire with prepaid postage. I listed 10 questions on the form and then left a space at the bottom for any additional feedback. This gave me the chance to address any issues a customer may have had with a contractor or if there was any other way I could improve my business. Besides helping me tailor my business to the needs of my customers, it also let them know that I cared—and this made them trust me more.
Deliver as Promised (or Even More)
Delivering as promised is an act of kindness because you’re giving others what they’re wanting or needing. They appreciate you or your product because you’ve somehow made their lives better.
The opposite holds true: Think of a time when you’ve been let down by someone. How did it make you feel? Of course, you probably felt disappointed and even angry or sad. Being let down doesn’t exactly bring out positive emotions.
A product can also fail you just when you needed it. I just had this happen yesterday. I wanted to go for a long walk yesterday. It was just as the sun was setting and the weather was perfect. I had been looking forward to my walk all day. Ten minutes from home, the strap on my sandals broke. I then had no choice but to turn around and head back home—and barefoot, no less. I did change shoes and go back out for a bit. But by that point, it was getting too dark for me to walk to the place I had wanted to stroll through. I was annoyed that my shoe had broken down on me like that. Why couldn’t the company that manufactured them make them more durable? Not only had my time been wasted, my money had been wasted, too.
My point is that providing what you said you would provide, or at least what should be a given for the product or service you’re offering, is one of the best ways to earn the trust (and therefore the money) of others. Even better is if you deliver more than promised or expected. This makes for a satisfied customer. You can do this by:
- including a freebie whenever you sell a product
- providing higher quality than expected, such as a product that’s even more durable than advertised
- making it incredibly easy to contact you or your business, such as removing automated answering menus and providing your contact info on every web page (if you own the type of business where customers will be calling on a regular basis)
- always resolving any issues that arise quickly and diplomatically
- following up to make sure the customer is satisfied
If you are an employee, you can still use the “deliver as promised” technique to get ahead. If you promise your boss you’ll have a project done by a certain date, for example, then make sure you get it done by then—and done well.
Charity Work Makes You Popular
Doing charity work or starting your own charity can have a huge impact on both your soul and finances. Not only does it feel good to help others in need, it also increases your chances of success because it gives you more exposure. If you’re volunteering as an individual, you get to meet other people in your community and those people are going to like and trust you simply because you’re taking the time to help others.
If you head a business, charity work can help market it because the charity will most likely mention your brand on its website and in its marketing materials. They essentially become a partner in your marketing efforts—and if they have a large following already, this can have a huge impact on your business.
As Yitzi Weiner wrote in the medium.com article “15 Examples of How Charitable Giving Helped a Business Succeed,” “When a company sponsors or donates to an event that is in line with their vision, it can have a very positive impact on their networking and brand awareness.”
Charity work also gives your business a positive image to the general public and smart CEO’s know this. Take Bill Gates, for example. In 2000, Gates—along with his wife, Melinda—started the Gates foundation. Most of us have heard of the Gates Foundation and how Bill Gates is determined to give away most of his money. And whether or not your on team Apple or team Windows, you can’t help but remember how generous Gates is being when you think of Microsoft.
You can apply this principle if you’re an employee as well. Doing good work and casually making your boss and coworkers aware of it helps you to have a positive image. It’s even better if you can serve on a non-profit’s board or take some sort of a position with a title. This demonstrates that you’re thoughtful, organized and hard-working. It also shows them you have heart.
Just be sure that your help is always sincere. None of this works if you’re faking it because people can spot insincerity a mile away. How do you avoid having to fake it? By only helping in a way that you’re comfortable with and when you have the time to do it. You can’t say yes to everything—there’s simply not enough time in your life to do that. But you can pick issues that are near and dear to your heart.
Think about how you want to help the world. Do you want to help people save time? Do you want to help others make more money? Do you want to assist the homeless? Did someone close to you die of cancer and you would like to help other people with the same disease? You can’t solve every issue but both your work and what you do for charity should stem from a desire to have a positive impact on the world. Figure out the one to three things that really matter to you and let that reflect in your actions.
The Link Between Altruism and Happiness
These examples have shown how solving a problem that a lot of people have—i.e. helping them—can also bring in lots of money to the people providing the assistance. But did you know that the very nature of helping others increases your overall happiness, regardless of if it makes you rich or not?
In an article called “Altruism and Well-Being” by the U.K.’s Mental Health Foundation, the author wrote, “Giving to and helping other people releases endorphins which then activate parts of our brain that are associated with trust, pleasure and social connection.”
This demonstrates that being kind really does pay off—in more ways than we could have imagined. Who knew that so much could be gained personally by giving? Sounds like the best business deal out there.:)