“People do not buy goods and services. They buy relations, stories, and magic.” — Seth Godin

Adding value to others without being eaten alive

As we are approaching 2015, now more than ever, everyone wants to add value to others.

We read about it everywhere and we want to be part of this movement that is very anti-“what’s-in-it-for-me”.

Since we are in the era of collaboration and synergy, how do you add value to others and not be eaten alive in the process?

Here are a few tips and common pitfalls to avoid:

  • Show them the Dots. But you do the Connecting. Remember, YOU are part of the value you are adding. Therefore people need to associate YOU with the value that you are adding. Your role should be explained clearly in the solution that you are providing. If not, what’s the point?
  • Don’t cheapen your Skills. You’ve honed, practiced, researched and developed your skills so many times that you start thinking that it’s nothing special. A common mistake is to cheapen your skills at the precise moment that you are doing your sales pitch about adding value: “I’ve been working on this thing, really it’s no big deal, but I thought that maybe you’d like it, but I wasn’t sure”. Speak with conviction or sit down. Even if you are offering your services for free, people have no time for unsure people. None. It’s a turn off!

Remember: people want to work with people who have a sense of conviction about what they are expressing and where they are going.

  • You don’t always have to wait for their permission to add value. You are on the outside. You see things they don’t always see. Have initiative, go to them and explain the problem you see and the solution. All in one shot.
  • Nobody starts with what they need. Why not add value by helping others develop what they need to get to the next step? It doesn’t always have to be about resolving a problem.
  • Listen to your instincts. Not everyone is always worth your time and day to add value to. Some people will abuse you and some will never appreciate your gifts. The fastest way to betray yourself it to not listen to your instinct.
  • Be aware of what you bring to the table. In the long run, adding value has to be a win-win. Too many people add value to others for years for free and yet they are afraid to ask for help or assistance in return. They become lifetime volunteers. That is not a problem if being a lifetime volunteer is what you want. People feel good when they give back. Don’t rob people from the gift of giving back….to YOU!


Here is the thing about adding value to others: you need to agree on what “value” means to both of you. If not, that’s ok, but know when it’s time to walk away. Because in the end, there are many people out there who are more than ready to appreciate what you bring to the table.

Who you value, should value you.

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