Careers – November – December 2012

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Give the gift – of yourself …

“The more credit you give away, the more will come back to you. The more you help others, the more they will want to help you.” – Brian Tracy

The holiday season is upon us. The season when generosity flows, we help others in need and we connect with friends, family and others more than any other time of the year. It is enjoyable, albeit so short.
And then it ends.

And the “giving” becomes scarce.

The needs continue in the community, but those willing to help are in shorter supply. That is why, following on a growing trend, I’m suggesting you consider giving a gift of yourself, rather than giving a material gift. Give yourself on a continuous, year-round basis and contribute not only your time and dedication, but your skills. Not only does this help those you are helping, but this helps you, too, in life and career (more on this in a moment).

Giving of yourself on a continual basis has far more value that a material gift. Imagine delivering a card to someone you normally buy a gift for that states “This year, I pledge to dedicate my time to XXX organization, to help those in need. I hope you see this as a gift of myself to you and helping others.” Imagine if more and more people did the same – visualize the impact on our community. It just takes one person to start and others will follow.

Of course, you could be saying, “Sure, but I do not have the time or resources to give to others.” I understand that when one thinks about giving to others it can mean donating a lot of time or money and both may be scarce. But it does not have to be. You can give back to others in a manner that meets your life needs and doesn’t have to reach into your pocket. Consider:

  • Volunteering a set number of hours per month – it might be two hours or 20. The amount is not as important as the commitment and consistency.
  • Organizing a campaign to collect funds or materials in a school, church or in the community.
  • Writing letters and participating in social media to communicate the needs of an organization that you support.
  • Mentoring or coaching an individual in need that you can help with your skills, experience and wisdom.
  • Participating on a committee for a fund or awareness-raising event.
  • On a one-to-one level, committing to checking in on someone in need in your neighborhood – one who is infirmed or the elderly who cherish this gift.
  • Stepping up as a leader and joining a Board of a not-for-profit or community service organization.

Did you notice that I never mention anything about giving money? Of course, monetary donations always help, but are not required if you can’t afford to give. Your time and commitment is more valuable than money.

And this is good for your life and career as well …

You will, through giving to others, meet new people from different backgrounds and interests. You will feel so much better about yourself, as you are making a difference. You will also be networking – and that will advance you – if you give back here, too. 

In Dig Your Well Before You Are Thirsty by Harvey Mackay (in my opinion this is his best book ever) he writes: “You know you have a strong network when it’s 4:00  in the morning and you are in jail – and you don’t have to call family!” Networking isn’t simply making contacts for your personal gain, it is also about giving back something in return. It might be keeping in touch with topical information, sending along a lead or news tidbit of interest or sharing good news. Harvey Mackay still sends birthday cards; now that is impactful.

Often, when one goes out to “network” they are looking to take from those they have met or set out to meet. They often forget that the value of a network is a group you can give back to in return for their consideration.

All too often I have had people  reach out, asking for help in making a job contact or a potential sales contact and never hear back from them again or even to see how they could help someone I know. Or in some cases – to just say thanks!

Give the gift of yourself and glow in the holiday lights – you  deserve it.

Happy holidays!

Dan Moran is president & founder of Next-Act, a career management & transition firm located in Colonie.  You can reach him at 641.8968 or dmoran@next-act.com or visit www.next-act.com
 

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