The end of this December is also the end of my one-year mandate as the president of Romanian Business Networking Society (www.rbn-society.com). In the feedback received from a RBNS member (who’s also one of the RBNS founders), he mentioned that he appreciated my objectivity in leading this organization of small business owners. I joined this organization as a member three years ago.
His point made me think about “What’s in it for me?” a phrase that we often hear.
A potential client wants to know what’s in it for him, before buying the product or service. A professional looking for a (better) job, wants to know what’s in it for him when he goes to a job fair. And examples could go on and on.
If you set upfront certain expectations, the disillusion could easily show up. Plus, we set up a filter for ourselves that could keep away from our “eyes” the new elements that might be even more useful for what we’re looking for.
Let me give you an example: when a job seeker goes to a job fair, he usually looks for job openings, right? And if there are not too many, or not at all in his field, or many recruiters (not many companies) he soon leaves disappointed. What he didn’t take in consideration are the new elements: the new people he could meet there (that could have shared useful information or contacts if he took the time to talk with them), or publications specific to that event (that contain more information and even new leads). Usually people who are at the booths are very nice, so they could start a conversation with them even they are not in their field (you never know what could come out of that discussion!). Or if they’re busy, that’s a good opportunity to meet the people waiting in line: who knows what they know, before even open the discussion?
Getting back to the small business owners. My approach as the RBSN president this year was a system approach: the organization is a system formed by its members (me included) and the relationships between members; we should also consider the relationships with the rest of the world (that goes both ways: affecting the world, and being affected). This system has a purpose on its own: to foster the growth of the RBNS members’ businesses. So I had to wear two hats in the same time: one for president and the other as a member (with my own coaching business). And here comes the objectivity part: the later “hat” faded out in order to allow the president “hat” to take care of the organization for the good of all members (not only for myself). If I was thinking at the beginning “What’s in it for me?”, I could come out with some ideas that would hinder my ability to be objective (by setting up a filter formed by my expectations).
Now, at the year-end, I noticed that there is a pay off for not thinking at “What’s in it for me?”. The members were much more receptive to my initiatives (noticing my objectivity) and all together we accomplished a lot during only one year: interesting events, improved image (new logo, big banner, brochures updated, calendar 2011), doubled the number of members, interesting connections, more referrals, a good atmosphere at the monthly meetings and events, increased participation at meetings and better relationships between members. And all this work was based on volunteering!
On a personal level, I’ve got referrals, new clients, recommendations, new friends and partners. I improved my leadership skills, learned to delegate and to rely on people when things get hard. And … I realized ones more the power of relationships even in a business environment! I couldn’t imagine getting all these from the beginning!
Bottom line: even if you think upfront at “What’s in it for me?”, be open to whatever comes up and try to be objective. There’s much more to get, than you think. The Universe always delivers what’s best for you in that moment… just trust it!
I would like to hear your opinions on this topic! Please don’t be shy! 😉