Adding your unique value

Adding Value 101

The right connection or partnership can change everything. That’s why so much of our focus at Live Your Legend comes back to environment. It’s also why we created our Connect With Anyone course and community (which we’ll be opening again soon).

We all have mentors, leaders, entrepreneurs and businesses we’d love to work with and learn from. So here’s a little idea on how to do it…

Help them.

And I’m not talking about sending an email saying “Thanks for doing the work you do. If I can ever help, please let me know.”

While that’s a nice gesture, it’s pretty much useless – because you’re asking them to do all the work to figure out how you could help them. But how are they supposed to know how you’re qualified to add value?

That’s why emails like that rarely get more than a “thank you” as a reply.

Instead, find a way to help them with something specific that you’re uniquely qualified to do.

Do a little work for them for free.

This connects on all kinds of levels. It shows you care, it gets you noticed, it showcases your talents and passions, it gives you a risk-free way to test out the type of value you can add to others, and if done right, it can lead to the kind of references, referrals, partnerships and careers that are nearly impossible to create through the traditional (and uber competitive) approaches.

I actually learned this one from a few of you, and it’s how I’ve found most of the people on the LYL team…

Three years ago, a reader noticed some typos in my work and offered up her professional editing services.  She ended up editing the first version of Live Off Your Passion for free and knocked it out of the park. Cherilyn now does all of my editing work.

Last year, one of our Connect With Anyone students reached out to offer help in editing some of our videos. He’d been editing broadcast TV for 20 years and seemed excited to work his magic to touch up some of our videos and create some new ones. I loved his work, and now it’s hard to think of having anyone else do our editing. Troy has been working with us ever since. He’s also done the same to create value and connect with some of his biggest dream connections, which is why he’s one of our star CWA case studies (more about Troy’s story in another post).

A couple of years ago, I got an email from a reader offering to put our Facebook community into mastermind groups – something I’d never even thought of. Her groups changed a lot of lives, so I hired her to do the same for our Connect With Anyone course. Our custom mastermind placement has since become a core part of CWA. She later wrote a 56-page mastermind guide and workbook just for our community. And it turned out she was good at a lot of other things too. Liz is now our Operations and Community Manager at Live Your Legend.

They offered because they wanted to help.

None of these people knew where their first email would lead. Nor did I.

There was no agreement or expectation that I would hire them. They just believed in our cause (and their own talents) enough to figure out a way to do their part to move the vision forward. And after walking the talk, I couldn’t wait to find a way to keep them involved.

Offering your talents is not a sales pitch. It’s not manipulation. It’s just a way of helping a person, cause or business you believe in. And when done right, that gets your foot into some pretty interesting doors.

The way you do this is pretty simple:

1. Find a person or organization you’d like to work with.

You probably already have plenty in mind. Think of authors, mentors, brands and businesses you respect. List them out and pick your number one.

2. Figure out where they could use help.

Based on what you know about what they’re creating and your experience with their work, business, community, whatever – brainstorm some ideas. If you know enough about them (and your own craft), you probably already know where they need it most. Odds are that they’ve mentioned it before or their community has asked for it. As a customer and fan, you know more than you’re giving yourself credit for.

3. Find a way to align your talents with what they need.

Only offer to help with things you’re uniquely good at and excited about. Review your past projects, experience, expertise and strengths, and get clever with finding a fit. This might be obvious up front, but oftentimes it takes some creativity to bring steps two and three together. Focus on what’s unique to who you are, where your talents lie and the difference you care about making. That’s what connects and gets someone to say yes.

4. Offer help.

Send a short and specific note about how you can help, your specific expertise and what the benefit will be for their community, business and bottom line. Tie it to results. Give them a timeline and exactly what you will deliver. Explain why it won’t be a burden or time suck on their end. Ideally tie your offer to something time sensitive like a product or book launch. Make it seem so useful that it’d be ridiculous to turn you down.

Tell them why you believe so much in what they’re doing and why you want to be a part of it. And make the subject line crystal clear. Don’t expect to hear back right away. Follow up. And if you still don’t hear, then reach out on a few different channels. If you’re convinced you can make a massive difference, you won’t be afraid to be persistent.

5. Deliver ridiculous value.

Make this your best piece of work yet. Fumbling the delivery will leave you worse off than before you ever reached out. Whatever you said you’d do, do it 10x. Keep them updated on progress but don’t expect much guidance (if any). Blow them away with value.

6. Don’t expect more, but encourage it.

Remember, you didn’t do this just to get some job. You did it because you wanted to help. Odds are that if you nail #5, then something more will come of it. Let them know you’d love to do another project and eventually work more consistently with them. Feel free to let them know you usually charge for work like this but you’re happy to do a little pro bono because you love what they’re up to.

Don’t be pushy about it, but be open to new projects. Ideally suggest some other specific ways you can help. Good talent is really hard to find and every entrepreneur has more to do than they’ll ever have time for. So if you show results, they’ll be excited to have more.

7. If you don’t hear back or get a yes, consider doing it anyway.

People are busy. Especially entrepreneurs and leaders. They won’t always have time to reply. Or sometimes they’ll say no simply because they don’t want to deal with managing another commitment. Depending on the project, sometimes it might make sense to do it anyway. You’ll have to feel it out, but if you know enough about what they need and you’re confident you can provide something that will make a huge difference, then why not give it a shot? Worst case is that you’ll do some good and have another project in your portfolio.

Adding value is the new job security.

If any form of job security still exists, it’s being able to add massive and specific value to a group of people. Do that and you’ll always have something exciting to work on.

Pay attention to where people need help – because everyone does.

Recognize how you can provide unique value to the people you respect – because everyone can.

Then start helping the people who have been helping you for years.

That’s when things start to get pretty interesting.

-Scott

Btw, I realize that adding value is a massive topic. That’s why it’s the foundation upon which we built our How to Connect With Anyone course and community. We only open it three times a year and the next opening is coming up. If you want to go deeper, you can sign up for the early-access wait list and grab our insider’s connection tools here.

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Image Credit: A young talented girl I found adding value in Santorini. See more of the adventure on Instagram.


Leave a Reply

23 Responses to “Rule #1 for Getting Mentors, Leaders & Businesses to Want to Work with You”

  1. Great post and message Scott, thanks! All fabulous ideas and so very doable, especially when we believe in the same cause that a leader, mentor, or organization believes in. I definitely believe that it takes caring enough to be willing to think of ways, all ways to contribute to a person or cause that we also believe in and want to help advance. Also loved the line “adding value is the new job security”, awesome! Cheers!

    • Scott says:

      It takes work for sure Mike. That’s the best part because it’s why most people will never do it. There’s almost no competition when you really nail the process covered above. But from what I’ve seen from you, you already know that plenty well :).

  2. Robert van Tongeren says:

    Love this!

    I’ve actually been shooting for some pro-bono work. This post lets me know I’m not crazy for doing so, but also that I should be more persistent.

    Thanks, Scott.

    • Scott says:

      So often I see people cutting themselves off a the knees because they insist on charging for all the value they provide. That’s just not the way the new world of business and connections work. You must build the trust and demonstrate the value first. If you skip that step you’ll be hard up to ever get anyone to pay you. That’s why so many of the online and blog based business models have been so powerful. They’re simply tools for offering huge value and proving your desire to help a certain group of people. For building trust and community. Everything on LYL was 100% free for the first few years as I was sorting things out and building the foundation and trust with all of you. Now 95% is still free and for those who want to go deeper, they can dig into the other 5% of paid tools and coursework we provide. And that 5% can still make for a wonderful business. Amazing how fluid today’s tools make the trust building process.

  3. I really love adding value. Gosh, it is something I have always loved. I noticed it is easier to offer help to those ‘below’ you than it is to those ‘above.’

    Part of this is due to the skepticism that our sincere offer could get sometimes. It could also be due to our own self-esteem.

    Thanks for putting this up. It inspires me to reach out even if it seems hard to do so at first.

    Thanks.

    • Scott says:

      Agreed that it’s easier to help those below but that’s a totally different scenario. Awesome to be the mentor but in this case we’re talking about going the other direction. A little scary sure, but also comes with a totally different set of possibility. Have fun with it!

  4. Jan Herzberg says:

    Scott – this is a really helpful guide. I always had this thought in my head that providing value without getting something back in return will pay back later big time. Although people find it strange nowadays where everything seems to have a price tag on it, this mindset will convince them otherwise. I will continue providing value without wanting to get something in return at first. Thanks for reminding me of the opportunity that lies in working this way.

    • Scott says:

      That’s what makes it so powerful Jan. The more you can catch someone off guard the better. That comes with really nailing the fit and then of course doing a little over delivering ;).

  5. Davis Nguyen says:

    As usual you hit the core message of all relationships: lead with generosity.

  6. Karma! Golden Rule time, or sowing and reaping. Make friends with folks by offering value, promoting them, commenting on their blogs, and helping them in any way. Then goodness flows back to you. Thanks Scott!

  7. Anna says:

    Great article, Scott. “Adding value is the new job security” is a great phrase and is 100% true. You know, I’ve got an idea while reading the post, I might contact you soon.

  8. Brian says:

    Scott,

    You are so right. It boggles my mind when I see people trying to “take” from a relationship well before they have given enough to deserve anything from that relationship. You HAVE to give first!

    And I couldn’t agree more about adding value being the new job security. Seniority as security is pretty much dead. So many experienced people in my neighborhood are having trouble finding work because they think the old “meritocracy” still exists. They don’t concentrate on adding value because they don’t realize that value – not credentials – is the new security.

    Spot on!

  9. Max_G says:

    Hi Scott,

    I tried to subscribe several times, but no confirmation link apperas in my mailbox (nor spambox). Other mails do come in though. Looks like your mailserver is having trouble. Hope you can fix it, you have my emailaddress ;-)

    Thanks,
    Max_G

    • Max_G says:

      Update: I subscribed to receive comments om my comment, which does work. So indeed your mailserver must be down.

  10. Steve Roy says:

    Hey Scott,
    I totally agree that doing a little (or even a lot) of work for free can get noticed and may make an impression.
    A few months ago, I was looking to guest post for Men With Pens and knowing that it’s pretty hard to get featured on there was apprehensive. And as I was looking at her site, I realized that she had some redundant copy on her “about” page.

    I emailed her telling her what I found and she replied literally within 3 minutes. She thanked me and I replied introducing myself and explaining that I was planning on guest posting for her. She said what I did was a good indicator of what was to come and thus my door was opened….

  11. Daniel says:

    This is another awesome post Scott. I love how you add that sometimes, these people say no because they don’t want to add another commitment. I see this is so true, even in my business.
    I use LinkedIn a lot as a tool to reach out to these kinds of people. It’s a lot more personal than an email since people can see who you are and your background.

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  13. John Paricka says:

    Scott-
    This is some great advice. I struggle with networking because a connection always seemed like a “fake” friendship to me. I like the idea of reaching out to people that I look up to, since I already know I have a lot to learn from them. Not only that, but I would be helping someone I look up to which would be an honor regardless of whatever happens after that. Thanks for the advice!

  14. George says:

    Great article Scott.
    Your content is always so helpful and I appreciate your work! I agree that inspiring others to connect with you or work with you is definitely a process of leading with generosity. I think the added bonus is that by offering your best work for free, it makes you feel abundant which helps you on a macro level in your life. It makes you feel like you’ve always got more to give and boosts your creativity.. well that’s my experience anyway.

  15. Dubem Menakaya says:

    Great post Scott – so true and so simple.

    This is how I got to work with one of the best podcasters/webshows in the UK (London Real). I emailed and offered to write blog posts, find cool clips in the interviews and ended up spending loads of one-on-one time with the host (Brian) and learnt so much from him.

    You never know where the first connection will lead to…..but if you don’t try it won’t lead anywhere!

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