A recent article by the World Economic Forum, an international non-profit organisation committed to “improving the state of the world by engaging the foremost political, business and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas,” argues that the four most powerful words in business are: How can I help?
The author noticed that far from stepping over people to get to the top, the most “wildly successful” businesspersons are instead “offering up their time and expertise, their connections and critical thinking power.” Why? Because in today’s business world, networking is key, and helping-out your fellow businesspersons is an excellent way to quickly build rapport and forge meaningful connections that could benefit your interests in future.
The author of the article likens this to “business karma.” Whether you believe in karma or not, there are ways you can put this theory into practice and get a return on investment on your own good business deeds.
Become a mentor
A mentor is someone who shares their knowledge, advice, support and contacts with a protégé embarking on a similar career path or in their industry. The mentor/mentee relationship can be highly beneficial to both parties. As well as getting to nurture the next generation of talent in your industry, you can build a valuable ally for the future, and it could help you stay ahead of industry trends, issues and technologies and encourage you to assess your own career.
Share your knowledge
Sharing your industry knowledge through discussion groups or sharing articles on business sites like LinkedIn not only builds your reputation as an expert in your field, but actually serves to build on your existing knowledge too as it encourages you to research and explore new areas. “The key is to keep educating yourself so you stay ahead of the curve,” says Forbes.com, a global media company, focusing on business, investing, technology, entrepreneurship, leadership, and lifestyle.
Use your connections and wider business network to help others find career opportunities. Whether it’s helping a family friend with an internship, or a colleague make the move to a new company, you’ll eventually find yourself with allies and beneficial contacts all over your industry who want to do you a favour in return. “However, don’t let your credibility take a hit: make sure the people you’re advocating are legitimate,” warn Forbes.com.
Take someone for coffee
Networking can be as simple as inviting someone out for lunch to go through their business problem, or ask them what’s going on in their jobs and helping them out with fresh insights, expertise or just being a sounding board. Chances are, they’ll return the favour. “Listening to others makes a lasting impression and makes people feel valued,” says Entrepreneur.com, a magazine aimed at helping aspiring entrepreneurs.“Your new connections will remember your conversation and your desire to help them, and will be much more likely to pass on the word about your services if the occasion arises.”
So consider starting more of your business conversations with the words ‘how can I help?’