Quid Pro Quo: Taking Help and Giving Back

Taking help without giving back can create resentment. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. And don’t be selfish with your time when others could use some of your expertise. Quid pro quo – giving back is important.

Offering Helpquid pro quo

An acquaintance of mine once asked me for comments on his company’s web site. He was looking for suggestions that would help generate more site traffic and provide an easy to navigate experience for visitors. Their goal was to increase awareness among their client base, agencies within the Department of Defense, so they would have stronger brand recognition as they bid on contracts.

The reason he asked me is because this is my area of expertise. My company has a good bit of experience building business web applications. Before we embark on a project, we do a lot of research to simplify the design flow. If we can make the site so straight forward that it doesn’t take much thinking to find and navigate, then we know we are on the right track. This kind of work takes a lot of time to ensure we are using the right words, images and structure.

I was happy to help and quickly put a plan together, which his staff implemented. I didn’t charge him for this since I was doing it as a favor.

What Happens When You Don’t Reciprocate

A year later, I needed a some guidance on a project. I asked him if he could spare some time to chat.  No response. I politely asked again. Radio silence.

I was not terribly bothered by this since I figured he must have been very busy at the time. Quid pro quo didn’t even enter my mind.

Then, another request came in. He asked if I could look over a new web-based human resource system they put together for sourcing candidates for their job openings.

I gave him a few pages of comments which his staff took and improved their system. It didn’t take me much time because a lot of this is second nature to me. Again, I did it as a favor and did not charge him.

A while later, I needed some input on reaching buyers at government agencies and knew he had the expertise that could help me sort out some questions. I asked for help and got the same lack of response I had experienced earlier.

This time, it did bother me. His silence portrayed him as a very selfish person, someone I no longer cared to help.

The concept of quid pro quo bubbled to the top. When someone reaches out and you help them, but they don’t help you when you are in need, it gives rise to resentment.

Making Yourself Aware

He is a very nice guy in every other respect. But he is not tuned into giving back and as a result he doesn’t see that his lack of response turns people off.

If someone asks for help and you have the expertise to chip in, do it. If you think this type of thing isn’t for you, look back to the last time someone helped you out. You might be surprised to see the village you live in has been giving you a boost. Quid pro quo.

7 Actions That Create Good Luck

Next week, I will get to check off an item from my bucket list.  I am giving the keynote commencement speech for one of the departments at the University of Maryland, College Park.  I will be sharing stories that embody this list of actions which, in my experience, create good luck:create luck clover

  1. Make a bucket list. This is a list of things you want to do before you kick the bucket. The point here is to set goals. Too many of us meander through life and years later look back only to realized we haven’t accomplished what was once our dreams.  Deciding what you want out of life is the first step.
  2. Get a mentor. Even the most independent people who strive to create their own paths leverage the guidance of others to shed light. Every professional athlete has a coach. A mentor or coach can show you the ropes and help identify weak spots so you accelerate achieving your goals.
  3. Express gratitude. Saying “thank you” are probably the two most powerful words anyone can speak. Being grateful for what you have and expressing gratitude to others for their contributions to you is an important step in making more luck flow into your life.
  4. Volunteer. The old saying “80% of success is just showing up” rings true every time. When you have an opportunity to participate in an activity, do it. Volunteer to take a lead role in your professional association, be the first to offer to put in extra time at the office, join a community group. You will feel good about the contributions you make and others will notice. And that will bring you more luck.
  5. Share what you learn. Think about this: At a dinner party, who do you find most interesting – people who talk about themselves the entire night or those who share experiences and information that put others’ interests first?  Be the person who shares and people will gravitate toward you.
  6. Create connections. Connecting with others is a critical piece of the “luck” puzzle.  Make connections for yourself and for others. If someone introduced you to a person who was helpful in your career, you would remember the gesture and want to reciprocate. Most people feel the same way. Connect others and they will make connections for you.
  7. Tell stories. We learn best when we hear stories. They allow us to identify with characters and see our own lives playing out in the story. When you make a point, illustrate it with a story and your audience will remember your point much better.  The commencement address I will be giving will be full of stories to help remember these seven actions.

What creates good luck for you? Please share your comments.