The Art Of Giving To Help Your Business
I’m often asked about my number one key piece of advice for creative entrepreneurs, and while it’s obviously (you guessed it) to create some sort of plan, my usual second is to give often and freely.
Give advice. Give gifts. Give time. Give shared resources. Give of yourself.
We know the running joke that most artists think of themselves and while that may be true for some of us, besides just wanting to cultivate a sense of selflessness in general, there are actually two big reasons to give as much as you can.
But before we look at those reasons, I need to cover a sensitive topic that comes up a lot around the notion of networking or giving to receive as it pertains to our businesses.
I fully understand that taking actions with some sort of expectation in return can feel manipulative and dishonest. It can go against our values and unfortunately in the creative sector, a lot of our contacts are fairly personal so it can hit close to home. But – without regularity of giving beyond yourself, you can find yourself in the exact situation you wanted most to avoid which is seeming like you only *want* things from folks when you need something. And as you work more on the overall structure of your business, you will find yourself needing to engage more and more of who you know in order to grow.
So…two big reasons to give freely are:
Figuratively (but also maybe literally – do you!). Either way, as a creative business owner, you want to be known as someone who is generous of spirit and selfless. It creates a powerful sense of the scope of your brand far beyond your talent and gives off a sense of confidence because you aren’t burdened with the fear of not having enough for yourself. And if you are carrying around the fear of giving away the very thing you may need, creating the practice of giving more frequently might allow you to release some of that toxic worry.
Quid Pro Quo…
I’m a big believer in engaging our networks as a way to move forward in nearly every aspect of our careers (personal connections, resources, advice, support and the list goes on and on). Subsequently I’m a big believer in giving as much as I can. Those who know me know that to be true. Many, many people have helped me over the years and I am often more than willing to give back as much as I can. Part of what comes along with that is the very real notion that we then spin a web of generosity. Or – yes – expecting something in return for the favor we gave. While we may need to release a potential sense of disappointment if we don’t receive, we can carry on proudly knowing that we continue to soldier ahead as leaders and not followers.
Now if you want to play in the big leagues, not only can we work to cultivate a sense of generosity and willingness when we’re called upon for a favor, but we can think ahead and give when it’s least expected. Cards, gifts, signs of support, unexpected texts showing thought, whatever floats your boat. Most important is the act. Not only may you operate on a higher, more positive plane in general but you’ll probably see an overall uptick in what becomes available to you professionally.
By the way, you know that look someone gives you when you ask them for a favor and you can see they’re clearly uncomfortable or unsure as to whether or not they should help you out? 99% of the time it’s because they realize they’re not doing enough themselves and are jealous of how proactive and confident you are. Their problem; not yours.