How To Improve Your Serve

To network well, you must first serve others.   

Others decide if it benefits them to have you in their network. Just because you know a person does not mean she necessarily believes herself to be better off by knowing you. You must, through your actions, earn and deserve their trust.  One of the best ways to nurturing trust is to serve others.  The key, of course, is being valuable to them: on their schedule, by what they define as valuable.

In order to improve your ability to serve others, take a few minutes to divide your life into distinct categories.  For each category, list out your assets in each: experiences you have, knowledge you can provide, etc. related to these different areas. These assets will become the foundation of your ability to provide value.  Here are some sample categories, along with examples of ways to serve others: 

  • Career: managing a team, dealing with a difficult boss, learning about a new subject matter, timely polls/survey results for topics critical to their business…
  • Family: great books for parents raising a special needs child, expectant mothers group, resources for caring for aging parents…
  • Giving: volunteering for a charity, giving money for a cause, coaching a kid’s team…
  • Hobbies and Interests: a great new local band, popular blogs about their favorite sports teams, poetry, a new art collection, a great indie movie, upcoming cultural events, a new YoYo Ma recording, microbrew pub…
  • Intellect: reading, studying, earning an advanced degree…
  • Money: managing a budget, becoming debt-free, saving, investing…
  • Personal: an upcoming local mixer from their alma mater, news about their hometown, a current copy their high-school student newspaper; an ethnic restaurant…
  • Politics: volunteering for a campaign, starting a movement, running for office…
  • Romance: meeting new singles, dating, creating romance in a marriage…
  • Social: invitations to networking or industry events, cocktail party…
  • Spirituality: finding a place of worship, prayer, spending time in nature…
  • Wellness: SmartPhone apps for running, exercising, healthy eating, simplicity movement…

This list is merely a starting point.  Brainstorm all the assets you have with which to serve others. Take the time to cull through this list—slowly and thoughtfully. Add new sections to it. Are you an avid runner? Make Italian pasta from scratch? Love foreign films? Great internet researcher? There is no end to the possibilities of how you can serve others.  Use your imagination, listen to what people need, and find a way to help them.

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