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I got a new DJ controller for Christmas from my wife. I’ve loved electronic music for years and years, and this gift was very much appreciated. It’s enabled me to step up my practice (latest mix here), and I even got to spin some tunes at a house party on New Year’s Eve.

That wasn’t the only gift I received recently.
My renewed zeal for beats led me to ping a contact I hadn’t been in touch with for some time on LinkedIn, here’s the note I sent:

I literally got gold back in return. Tip, after tip, after tip. Labels I should be following. How to track down fresh tracks. A website for getting the names of tracks from mixes I listen to. Advice on making mistakes and recording.

It was a remarkable response from someone that I’d fallen well out of touch with.

Which got me thinking about people that give. These people are awesome!
You know the people I’m talking about, where the default approach to meeting people is “how can I help?”

I actually saw a note on this on LinkedIn the other day:

It’s spot on.
Some of the best performers I’ve met, consistently cultivate this mindset and make it second nature.

Here’s a few more examples of giving and receiving that I’ve encountered:

  • I reached out to Scott Schwertly (CEO of Ethos3 – a presentation design agency) while researching a side-project. I explained my interest in presentation design and wanted to ask him a few questions about what he does. We Skyped and he lent some fantastic perspective on how that world works. It was a very generous gesture to somebody he hadn’t met
  • A girl in the same industry saw me interact with their colleague, and proactively reached out to pick my brain around working at a tech company. We met for coffee and I shared some tips, the following year she followed up to let me know she got a gig at Facebook!
  • Ramit Sethi’s interactions on Twitter are amazing to watch – the guy is very busy – but takes the time to help @s with succinct and punchy advice

How to cultivate a positive exchange with anybody

Not everyone has time. Not everyone has this mindset.

Having said that, there *are* things you can do to either put your best foot forward, or provide super help to somebody that approaches you.

When approaching someone for help:

  • Keep your request short and to the point
  • Be specific – it needs to be something you know they have expertise in, and not something you can simply Google or find out via other means easily
  • Try and help them too, or at the very least, make your request entertaining and give them a reason to invest their time in you
  • Return the favour they’ve done for you by providing an update on how you went once you actioned their advice

When giving someone help:

  • Rather than give them the answer, teach them how to fish! Explain how you came by the information, and what you did to get there
  • Share links, resources, blog articles, and pointers in the right direction
  • Be polite! If the request is well-researched and demonstrates thoughtfulness, return the favour in kind

I’m sure the volume changes when you’re a VIP or CEO, but some of the best performers I’ve ever met seem to have this approach to helping that’s innate.

With that in mind, if there is something I can help you with let me know, I’m here to help! 🙂