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Why you should give more than you get

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One of my goals is to take the typical advice you hear, deconstruct it, and instead of telling you 25 things you “should” do, actually show you the one thing that works.

In other words, is anyone else tired of experts telling you to “add value” without showing you HOW to do it?

If your answer is HELL YES RAMIT, we’re on the same page. So below, I’m going to show you a couple emails I sent in the last 3 weeks that show you exactly how this works.

I don’t have anything to sell. I don’t want anything from you. I just want you to succeed in life — and it’s my treat to be able to share some of the cool things I’ve learned along the way.

As you read, notice 3 things:

  • THIS is how you build personal and professional relationships. These days, if I call up a journalist or CEO or friend, they’re happy to help me. It’s not because of some super-duper fancy technique…it’s because of simply being cool and helpful for years and years.

  • Anyone can do this. You don’t need an Ivy League degree or a published book. Stop disqualifying yourself.

  • I want you to INSIST that anyone you read be able to show you exactly how their “tips” work. Notice when you read IWT, I don’t just tell you 2-3 things to do…I show you the exact system. When I tell you how to interview better than 99% of people, I show you the exact words to say, the exact body language to use, and the exact tests I ran. Same with this email. EXPECT THE BEST. You’re worth it.

OK, now that this email sounds like a feminine hygiene product, let’s get on with it.

These are REAL emails that happened in the last 3 weeks.

Example #1: I introduce my friend to a TV producer

The situation: I have a friend who’s a producer on a TV show. She emailed me asking if I had any ideas for the show. I could have sent her 20 ideas and positioned myself to get on the show.

Instead, I have a friend who would be even better for the show. So I introduced her to the producer. Watch how I did it.

Email conversation.

I knew someone that would be perfect, so I added tremendous value for both people by setting up an introduction.

Email conversation.

Email conversation.

Denise knew that she would have a great guest, and Amanda got introduced to a producer on a national talk show. Win-win for both and I felt great introducing two friends.

And here’s the exact e-mail introduction I made:

Email conversation.

Important Note: You’ll see that I don’t expect anything from Denise or Amanda. There’s no “what do I get out of this?” If you provide real value to your network, it opens you up to serendipity and will pay off in ways you could never predict.

Example #2: How to show gratitude

Here’s an example of how my friend Derek Sivers gave my name to someone from The New Yorker.

Email conversation.

One thing I learned is THANK PEOPLE FOR DOING NICE THINGS. Duh, sounds obvious, but let me count the times people don’t say thanks when I’ve hooked them up.

  • A college acquaintance moved to NYC asked me to connect her to some CEO at a company. She ended up getting the job because of my connection! Two years later, she asked me for another introduction. I ignored her email

  • I gave a first-time entrepreneur advice on pricing. They quadrupled profits in less than 1 month doing what I said. I only heard about this because I have a mutual friend.

  • Etc etc etc kill me

This introduction that Derek set up was a huge benefit to me. I wanted to make sure that Derek knew that so I sent him this e-mail to let him know I would be following up and I appreciated his help:

Email conversation.

Note: The e-mail is brief, but sincere. I make sure he knows how much I appreciated it (“It means the world to me”), that he was right on (“It’s exactly the kind of thing I’m looking to do”), and that I would take action (“I’ll follow up with her.”)

How to use this in your own life

THIS is how you add value. It’s not some vague, generic thing that happens when you’re a millionaire. It’s just about listening to what people want, and if you can make an introduction or a connection — or even a simple thank-you — doing it.

For example, next time you’re hanging out with a friend, take a genuine interest in what’s going on with them.

  • “Hey, what are you working on?”

  • “How’s that new IM soccer team going?”

  • “Anything I can help with?”

I challenge you to reach out to one person today and provide them with something without the expectation of anything in return.

Send a thank you note to your high school teacher!

Send an article to someone who’s not expecting it…and take an extra couple minutes to tell them exactly how it can help them!

There are a million ways to add value. Today, I wanted to show you a couple ways you can do it with your own friends and professional contacts.

All part of living a Rich Life.

I’m curious: What ONE THING will you do in the next 48 hours to add value? Let me know by leaving a comment below.

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  1. I just found your blog about a week ago, and I already love it. Here, let me put theory to practice:

    Thank you for writing such a great blog! I really appreciate the direct and practical tips, since they are much more functional than the brain-dump lists on many other blogs. I’ve already been practicing your three “social skills” tips (smiling, talking slower, asking questions), and I will continue to be a faithful reader.

    (how am I doing so far?)

    I’m meeting with some friends on Friday for a monthly gathering. A friend suggested that I bring supper. I wasn’t going to… but now I feel compelled to do so. I already sent an email confirming that I would love to feed everyone. Giving: it’s what’s for dinner.

    • Nice response…you will definitely fit in well with the IWTYTBR culture, for what that is worth to you.

      I’m an Earn1K student and it has helped me create a freelance business that I’m growing until I can leave my day-job.

  2. Right relationships provide HUGE leverage in life. Relationships are a currency. It is surprising how many people don’t realize this and take relationships for granted (I am guilty myself and have started paying attention to creating and nurturing relationships very recently).

    Saying thank you seems like the most easy thing but a lot of people don;t do it. Again, most of them are not doing it because they are not thankful but because they are just not aware.

    • Building relationships is something that we all need to pay attention to in all aspects of life. It’s amazing how common courtesy and manners can go in work relationships. Take the ‘robot’ aspect out of a work relationship and things seem to flow better, production increases. Like you, I’ve learned to pay closer attention to relationships in all areas of my life.

  3. I appreciate that you are sharing the insights of what has worked for me when it comes to growing my network. The simple act of connecting has been a turning point not only giving value to others but also in the long term growth.

    What I appreciate more is the thank you reminder. Seriously! A thank you email or even a handwritten note goes a long way. It only takes about 5 to 10 minutes to get it done.

  4. I have an older friend-of-a-friend who wants to become more tech-savvy. She didn’t have a wireless network, and her friends complained that they couldn’t use wifi on their smartphones at her house.

    I build computers as a hobby. By pure coincidence, I had just upgraded my wireless router. The old router was sitting in my basement collecting dust. Yesterday, I called her and told her I had a router that I’d happily donate. She was overjoyed.

    I drove to her house and set it up. She was genuinely interested in how the router worked, and asked a lot of specific questions. I explained the differences between her router and my new one (data rates, transmission frequencies, etc.) I showed her how to connect wirelessly using my laptop. We did speed tests in different rooms in her house.

    Without realizing it, I probably spent over an hour talking to her. It turns out she’s a really good cook who’s experimented with the paleo diet. Recently, I’ve become interested in paleo and slow-carb cooking. Now I have someone I can call for recipe advice. She’s also friends with a small business owner that I used to work for.

    I was happy to help her, and I didn’t expect anything in return. In a week, I’ll email her and ask if her friends are happy with the wifi. (I have a reminder in my phone, so I don’t forget.)

    • ” her friends complained that they couldn’t use wifi on their smartphones at her house.”

      Seriously? That’s… I don’t even have a word for that.

      The rest of the story is genius in action, though.

  5. I often dine at a local chain resturant because it is close to work, has some great food and a happy and interesting server. Today I am going to take the time to write a letter the the servers employer praising them on their food and on their servers ability to consistantly entertain me while.running a busy section and always anticipating my needs before I need to express them. win. win for the resturant and.the server.

  6. I’m separating bulbs and preparing to plants to donate to the local museum’s garden.

  7. This is absolutely amazing Ramit. Really good stuff. In the next 48 hours, I’m going to find an interesting, value-adding article to send to a friend of mine who I know just recently got interested in meta-learning. Cheers!

  8. Hi Ramit,

    Thanks for the excellent advice as always. I have recently been using the email introduction tactics you have mentioned and have a meeting this Thursday because of someone my friend introduced me to! I will definitely thank her for introducing me after I can tell her how much value it added. 🙂

  9. I wonder who will be the first to genuinely attest ‘but I don’t know any important people/TV personalities/etc’….

    Tonight, I am going to send a new acquaintance a link to a blog on how to create a successful photography business. She is new to the market and I know the advice will help her start.

    I’ve come to know her recently and there isn’t anything that I think she can help me with. No harm in helping her.

    Giving = fulfilment 100%

  10. I value integrity, kindness and following through with your word…in the next 48, I’m sending out affiliate payments who I know won’t ever pay me a dime because they have poor money health and habits, and because it’s part of my philosophy to partners. I’m keeping my word when it comes to receiving referrals that make my business grow and in turn I keep my word and hopefully help them grow. You get what you give, man.