Years ago, I discovered a technique for converting every meeting, conversation or interaction into a success-building opportunity. I followed a maxim, taught to me as a child: Everywhere you go, always bring a gift. It had long been a part of my social style, but when I applied this to my business life, success quickly followed.
Whether you are a leader, manager, sales professional or entrepreneur … gifting drives success.
You see, success is not a place you arrive at, but instead, a direction you traverse over your career. That direction is forward, where everyday brings new opportunities and produces incremental progress. During each day, most of us have several interactions with other people: Associates, customers, prospects, partners, suppliers and people we meet in transit or at events. Too often, we treat these transactionally, as opposed to looking at them as opportunities to give to others. If we instead inject a gift into each conversation, we deepen relationships, build our brand and create momentum.
There are two key gifts you can bring to every conversation, and both are intangible (and scalable):
- Knowledge – Look for insert points to share tips, useful reads or helpful perspectives. Be proactive in sharing a new hack you’ve found to solve a common problem. If you’ve read a book that can shift your conversational partner’s thinking for the better, highlight the point, and if he’s interested, unpack the core idea from the book. Whether it’s a small share or a mentor moment, he’ll be enthused about the learning. I’ve found that if I am patient, listen intently and do a little prep work prior to every interaction, there’s always a knowledge sharing opportunity.
- Encouragement – Validation is one of the most powerful psychological gifts we can give to another person. It starts with listening to your conversational partner talk about her most important project, and prodding her to share details about her strategy, efforts and goals. Listen like the person who’s on the receiving end of her efforts, which will turn up your noticing knob. Point out the effective or creative things she’s doing, and then expand on why that’s either important to the project or inspires you. By being sincere, you’ll find that your gift of encouragement provides a real shot in the arm, which only fuels the energy level of the entire encounter.
If you always bring a gift to conversations, you’ll deliver high Return on Attention to others. You’ll find that they value time with you, they want to introduce you to their connections as well. After all, you’ve differentiated yourself from the rest of the pack, which often brings needs, complaints or give-and-takism to their conversations. Besides standing out, you’ll find that in most cases, your gift is reciprocated with helpful advice and encouragement, just when you yourself needed it the most.
Video Clip: Everywhere You Go, Bring a Gift (from his BBST 2015 keynote)