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