How Your Generosity Improves Your Business
with Josh Elledge
with guest Josh Elledge #MakingBank S5E8
In this tumultuous time of COVID-19, you may find yourself worrying more about yourself, your family, and your business than usual. As you focus on keeping your own affairs in order, you may start to pull back from thinking of others. It’s only a natural reaction: if you are spending more time on your personal circle, it can be challenging to remember the plight of others. However, as we all struggle through this difficult period, it’s important to do things for your community and connections. Not only can you help improve the experience of those around you, but it can come back to help yourself as well. Keep reading to discover how serving others can build relationships in your industry and grow your business.
In a recent episode of the Making Bank Podcast, guest Josh Elledge draws on his experiences as the founder of Up My Influence to discuss how serving your local community benefits those around you and your business.
After serving in the Navy, Elledge embraced the serial entrepreneur life, surviving a series of bankruptcies before founding a company that now makes over 6 million dollars in revenue with very little advertisement. Through Josh’s experiences, particularly the most difficult ones, he learned how to provide value to your customers and your community. He believes that offering someone help can be more effective than trying to sell yourself and your products. He calls this the “serving your way to the top” argument and divulges why it works.
What Elledge means by serving your way to the top is to reach out to others and do things for them for free. This could be reaching out to an individual or to an organization and doing work for them or offering them your service with no strings attached.
He uses the example of running a podcast to explain the benefits of giving. He outlines: “let’s say that you want to be a guest on a big podcast hosts show. Well guess what? So does everybody else—so how are you going to separate yourself from everybody else? Those that are saying ‘let me on your show, let me on your show?’”
Let’s break down Elledge’s points in this situation.
Reputation of Respect
Elledge highlights a very common reality in which most people of influence are constantly bombarded with others trying to get something out of them. When you ask that person to do something for you (i.e. “let me on your show”), you get lumped in with the rest of the crowd asking the same thing. Even if you could be a great guest, you won’t get the opportunity to prove yourself. When someone is constantly being asked to do something for others—for practically everyone—they just tend to shut that all off and become good at ignoring requests.
Along the podcast example, Elledge suggests “So what you want to do [to separate yourself] is you serve your way in.” He says, “you find a way to do something very, very nice for that person.”
If you offer to do something for this person or organization without asking for anything in return, you stand out from all those voices bombarding the entity with requests. In other words, you quite literally stand out from the crowd.
Continuing the situation given, Elledge says, “if you have a podcast, you’d better, at the very least, be inviting them on your show first.” Doing something nice for someone doesn’t mean the relationship ends there. In fact, it’s a solid foundation from which more opportunities can grow. You start to build a connection with them, both business and personal. Elledge explains that for his company, they “reach out to our dream ideal clients. I invite them to be a guest in our podcast. We promote them. We do lots of nice stuff for them, and then we’ll explore the relationship.”
In “exploring the relationship,” you have the opportunity to later broach the top of asking for something. Elledge suggests, “your pitch to them would just be asking, ‘what are you looking for? Maybe I can intro somebody or I don’t know if at some point it would be appropriate for me to be a guest, but I really want to know what you want, what you need. And I would be happy to help make that connection.’” Through this method, you aren’t forcing anyone to do anything for you. When people feel pressured, their gut reaction can be “no” as a sort of escape. Instead, this approach allows the person to feel like you aren’t needy, but rather do care for them—which makes them more likely to say yes to you in the future.
How do you know if someone will return the favor? Elledge says almost everyone he’s encountered has, maybe not right away, but they always do. He’d be surprised if someone doesn’t because in a world of everyone trying to get something out of you or sell, sell, sell, people really remember those who’ve offered to do something for them.
Along the lines of people remembering, serving others is a great way to market yourself. Say you build a connection with the person you invited on your podcast and down the road, they invite you onto theirs. This is an obvious opportunity to promote yourself and your service.
However, this concept extends beyond just podcasts. Elledge explains that “I just started doing pro bono work and our local startup community” and that built a reputation among his peers and community that he was someone who was pleasant to work with.
He encourages you to “just go in and serve. Serve on boards, workshops, pro bono mentoring.” Not only will you have done things for others, but you will soon start to gain a good reputation, make connections, and increase awareness around your own business.