Karma Economics: Why Giving is Good for Business
In love, in the end, what you give is what you get. – John Lennon
This famous wisdom applies to many facets of life, including business. Based on 20-plus years of entrepreneurial experience, Webcopy+ Founder Rick Sloboda suggests that giving to receive is especially powerful and rewarding when it comes to networking, creating value, and building professional relationships. In this article, we’ll show you how Sloboda’s approach to networking brings him success.
Creating Opportunities by Making Connections
Business is about relationships, says Sloboda, who creates multiple ‘circles of influence’, where he relentlessly connects fellow entrepreneurs and creatives with complementary interests or causes. “Mindfully connecting people provides real value and creates all sorts of opportunities,” he explained.
As a ‘giver’, networking and connecting people comes naturally to Sloboda.
“Whenever I meet someone, I listen intently, and if there are any opportunities to make connections, I immediately describe the opportunity.”
He often tells people over coffee: “You need to meet [so-and-so], and here’s why…” By the next day, he follows up with email intros.
Sometimes it’s connecting influential, highly-established people in different continents, which can translate into major initiatives and big business dealings. And sometimes it’s a form of giving back and making time to help a student get on the right track.
He mentioned a recent example where a young designer early in her career was exploring potential paths. Being connected to a vast range of people, the veteran web copywriter and content strategist was able to introduce her to an established photographer, a usability expert from Microsoft, and a neuroscience specialist in Europe.
“Two of the three responded to her the same day, offering to answer any questions,” said Sloboda. “Hopefully she’ll pay it forward to another up-and-comer when she has an opportunity.”
Sometimes making connections sparks immediate results.
Last year, Sloboda connected an inbound marketer with a design agency and an international business coach. “They now work closely together, and devotedly pull me in as their content strategist and copywriter on collaborative projects,” said Sloboda.
“I created that circle of influence, and it’s created fantastic opportunities for everyone involved.”
Sloboda’s circle of influence can be achieved simply by sharing opportunities with people you meet. And by being generous with your knowledge and network.
How to Get Quoted in Publications
Sloboda values the power of PR—public relations.
“Free press is incredibly valuable exposure, especially where you’re quoted as an industry authority,” explained Sloboda. “It’s more credible and can be much more valuable than any high-priced ad you can purchase.”
But how do you find opportunities like this?
Sloboda keeps his ear to the ground to intercept editors and reporters looking to quote people with certain experiences or expertise. For instance, he recently connected a New York marketing agency with a television opportunity, artists and graphic designers with design publications, and social media specialists with a major newspaper.
He is able to do this, in part, by creating that circle of influence.
The other reason is that he is giving reporters what they need. By sharing his network with these reporters, helping them finish their stories with relevant people and information, he creates a win-win relationship that will benefit him as well as the reporters.
When reporters and bloggers need interviews with a web content expert to discuss marketing or branding-related topics, they look to Sloboda, who always makes himself available.
“With the major papers, deadlines are often tight, so if you don’t jump at the opportunity, someone else will.”
Savvy entrepreneurs place great value on these opportunities, and so they should, stated Sloboda.
“A mention in a publication can be equivalent to a $10,000 ad, or more,” he explained, “and being cited as source or expert carries a heck of a lot more credibility, not to mention any valuable inbound links you acquire.”
Sharing Gigs and Careers Creates Deeper Connections
“These gigs range from three-day contracts to some super sexy, full-time, senior roles,” he said. “It’s another way to provide value and help others, and people are appreciative.”
These networking efforts now have agencies reaching out to him, asking if he knows of any suitable creatives for select roles.
“Funny enough, I’ve been asked on a few occasions if I’m a recruiter,” he said. “’No, I’m a content strategist’, I explain, ‘who likes to network and share opportunities with others’.”
The Rewards of Giving
Sloboda enjoys connecting people and opportunities, so he says he doesn’t consider it work.
His social media interactions often connect him to new people in different circles around the globe, which naturally lead to emails and phone calls, and sometimes ‘creative coffee sessions’.
“I make time to go for coffees with other creatives 3-4 times per week, just to talk shop, exchange ideas and explore opportunities,” said Sloboda.
“I find meeting with other creative types is inspiring and educational, often challenging my mindset. Also, it’s led to many wonderful friendships and professional relationships.”
In recent months, new connections have engaged him in noteworthy initiatives, including consulting projects with world-leading communication authorities, launching creative publications and a National PR Chair appointment with the Graphic Designers of Canada.
“These are remarkable opportunities with amazing people, some of whom I didn’t even know just a few weeks before,” he said.
Curious Minds Connect
Sloboda is an example of the value of connecting and sharing knowledge with others. No longer do we think of the successful entrepreneur or creative as a lone wolf. To be successful, you must make connections. And to make those connections worthwhile, it’s time to get generous.
If you’re an entrepreneur or creative type who has questions about web content strategies, or just want to talk shop, you can connect with the seasoned writer via LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, or visit his blog.