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Why you should give more than you get

Ramit Sethi

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.

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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