One of the easiest ways to make friends and allies in business is to help people.
Seriously. It’s often that simple.
It doesn’t even have to be that big of an effort on your part. In fact, the busier the person you’re talking to, the smaller the assistance has to be a lot of the time.
Don’t get me wrong, they’ll thank you for doing huge things for them as well (provided you do them properly), but the busier someone gets, the more small things pile up that need to be taken care of and the harder it is to get them off of their plate.
I say this both as someone who often is a very busy person as well as someone who helps others in order to further strategic goals (and sometimes just because it’s the right thing to do. You don’t always have to have an ulterior motive).
If you take something off of my plate and do it well, you’ll both get my attention and generally a public call out for it in the next group meeting. I’ll make sure that others know that you’re someone who helps out. A lot of the people I’ve worked with are the same way.
Let’s look at a real world example of this in action.
Part of my job is to put my team and the work that we do in a good light. One of the ways that we do this is to demo the work that we do to business stakeholders. These stakeholders can be anything from line managers to members of the C-suite depending on the situation. (No pressure, right?)
In order to do this well, you need to do some prep work. In this case, we were working with one of the business Subject Matter Experts so that we would present the technical aspects and they would speak to the business impact (as a pattern, it’s pretty effective).
This requires setting up meetings which, in a busy environment, can be a challenge because of everyone’s schedules.
Normally, this is something that our Scrum Master (a wonderful and incredibly busy person of whom I am quite fond) would help facilitate. However, since this is my team’s show (as it were), I put it on my list of things to do just to make sure it doesn’t fall through the cracks.
I didn’t state that I was going to do it, I just did it because it needed to be done and I had the ability to get the ball rolling. From a practical standpoint it made sense and I have a good working relationship with all of the people who needed to be in the room for the dry run, so communicating with them isn’t a problem.
So, that morning, I set up a group chat to hash out the timing (if you’ve ever worked with a group of busy people, you’ll learn that their calendar in Outlook usually isn’t their real calendar). We get the whole thing set up in about 15 minutes, meeting invites go out, everyone’s happy, and the world keeps spinning.
The Scrum Master also made it a point to thank me for taking point on it because of how busy things were (in other news, water is wet and Wednesday ends in ‘y’).
By taking a tiny task off of the plate of another busy person I:
- Further cemented my business friendship with the Scrum Master (who I already get along well with, but this sort of thing never hurts)
- Helped the business Subject Matter Expert (yet another very busy person) save themselves time and headache by setting up the meeting and taking the lead of laying out roughly how we wanted to run the presentation.
- Helped the members of my team set themselves up for success (This is always a big deal for me).
- Added another item to the list that shows that I am a person who can both get things done and can easily take up leadership on items without being asked (never underestimate how much impact this can have on your business relationships and career).
Not bad for 15 minutes of work that I was planning on doing anyway. And the great news is that you can do it too and it often really is that simple.