Help is rarely given freely in today’s world. Everything seems to have a price tag, keeping individuals forever wary of accepting anything that appears to come with no strings attached. Yet even in this suspicious atmosphere, truly selfless giving can and still does exist. In fact, for the smartest leaders out there, gifts are a great way to foster relationships before those relationships ever come to fruition.
Prior to diving into what constitutes good gifts, it’s important to recognize that taking actions on a first meeting to cement a potentially lifelong partnership is the very definition of networking. This business buzzword is thrown around as the end all, be all of any professional’s life. While not an entirely accurate summation, there is some truth behind the importance of being able to make a lasting impression on those you’re only meeting for the very first time, be it a client or fellow business person. All too often, inside information is shared between networked individuals that can help enhance a career.
Now armed with the understanding of the importance of getting to know perfect strangers, it then becomes your responsibility to figure out just how to engage these new folk in a manner that entices and doesn’t offend. Take the stereotypical used car salesman who is seen a sleazy, pushy and overall untrustworthy person despite the fact that they are outgoing, personable and friendly. Anyone can see that in the business of networking, they are doing something wrong.
If you look closer, you can easily see what it is they are failing to do. A used car salesman never gives any kind of gift without strings attached. They try to hold conversations with the hope of getting you to purchase something. They try to throw in an add-on to the car in order to get paid a little more. Everything they do is for selfish reasons. This means that in order to connect with others and make it work, you have to be selfless.
Does giving without expecting any returns mean carrying around physical gifts to hand out? Not at all. You can give selflessly even without purchasing anything. To do this, focus on the lives of those you interact with. Don’t talk about yourself, ask about them. Find out who they are, what they do and what they hope to accomplish. By letting them go on about themselves, you are not focusing on your self thereby acting in a selfless manner. This is not something everyone does and is an action that immediately endears you to total strangers by allowing them to connect with you in a manner they are comfortable with.
Should you delve into giving actual gifts, again, make sure there are no strings attached. Just like you shouldn’t listen to a person talk about themselves and expect them to ask about your life, you should never give a gift expecting something comparable in return. If you do, you will no longer be trusted. Individuals will start avoiding you because they know you’re intentions dishonest. On that same note, don’t allow people to demand things from you. You can be selfless without being a pushover.
Physical gifts can take the form of gift cards, tickets to events or trinkets. For instance, if you have tickets to a basketball game but can’t make it, instead of trying to sell them to a stranger, give them to someone you know that would be interested in them as a way to further your relationship. While they won’t owe you anything, your offer will endear you to them because it shows you had them in mind further proving that you paid attention to their specific likes and dislikes.
At the start, this entire practice may prove to be frustrating. We are, after all, selfish creatures looking out for our own gain. To overcome this, remind yourself that when you act selfless during a relationship building period, you are gathering vital intelligence that could serve a purpose in the future. That being said, there’s always a chance it will be fruitless. In the end, though, the fruition doesn’t matter so long as you are continually out and about fostering new connections with everyone you meet. The more people you can nurture a partnership with, the more opportunities will arise.