We all work on projects – both personal and professional. The most common projects are searching for a job or applying to university or graduate school. But, we work on other personal development projects too. During these projects, we connect with people for help and support. Some of these are people we know and some tend to be random strangers who help. My suggestion – make a “Helped me out list.”
It doesn’t matter if the person helped you a lot or a little bit – put them all on the “Helped me out list.” And, at the end of the project, regardless of how it turns out, reach out to every one of these folk and let them know how it went. Nothing fancy required. A short update will do. A thank you will be a wonderful addition.
First, people who take the time to respond to others, especially people they’ve never met, love hearing about the outcome of that conversation. Second, from personal experience, you only hear back once every hundred or so times. So, every follow up conversation is very memorable. Finally and most importantly, if you’ve reached out to a person for help once, there is a non zero chance that you will reach out to them again.
Besides, it is horrible practice to only reach out to people when you need something from them. I can think of two situations in the past year where I felt on either side of that table. In one case, I only seemed to be reaching out to this person asking for help. And, on the other, I seemed to only be hearing from someone when they needed my help. I was acutely aware of both and it just felt bad.
There are two principles at work here. First, plant more trees than whose fruit you’ll ever need. Second, plant them long before you need the fruit. This is hard to do right. You will definitely get a few wrong and they will feel painful. I certainly have gotten a few wrong over the years. But, over time, your percentages will get better.
A “Helped me out” list is a great way to improve those percentages.