Often when I have to let someone know that I won’t be able to take them on as a client I try to offer a piece or two of advice, suggest a resource, or some tips on how to further improve their writing. Most of the time they respond with appreciation for the extra advice.
Recently I was looking at a proposal from an author who has self-published a number of his titles. In the end I was not able to take him as a client, but as he was concerned about building sales of his self-published books I gave him some quick ideas and pointed him to some resources that I thought would be helpful to him, and maybe ease his frustration a bit. A couple of weeks later I came across a blog post unexpectedly and it reminded me of his situation, so I sent him a link. And we’ve had some nice conversations since then. I still don’t know if we’ll end up working together, but I think somehow we’ve both been enriched by our brief communications.
Last month I had been searching for a specific product for a building project at home, so I went to the Lowes store near me to see if they had what I needed. They did not have it in stock, but would try to get it. At the end of two weeks I had face-to-face conversations with three different employees, and on the phone I talked to three more additional people, including a manufacturing rep. I was amazed at the lengths they went to in order to help me find the product that I was looking for.
In the end, there was no sale, because they simply couldn’t get exactly what I was looking for, especially in a small quantity. But it wasn’t for a lack of trying! Now it’s also really interesting to note that this particular Lowes is one of the most profitable in the region. So maybe there’s benefit in just having outstanding customer service – which is helping the customer.
In the meantime I had a posting on Craigslist to see if anyone knew where I could find what I was looking for. Two people actually responded, and it turned out that one of the places recommended actually had my Owens Corning 703 in stock. I may not have found what I needed locally, if not for the help of others.
As Christians we are strongly encouraged to help others. “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them.” (Matthew 7:12, ESV) Paul digs even deeper and addresses our motivation and attitude: “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Philippian 2:3, 4 NIV)
As part of the writing community, the opportunities to help others will never end. People need us to read and critique their manuscript, they need our advice, they need our help to promote their latest blog or book.
We can also look beyond our writing community for opportunities to help others. Could your church, or a local non-profit benefit from your writing skills? Can you make yourself available to help write things such as press releases or on-line content? Do you know someone who is looking for a job and could use help in just writing an effective cover letter? The opportunities are endless.
We are all genuinely appreciate when it’s apparent that someone has put forth some effort and attention to get involved in our latest project!
How have you been a help to someone recently? How have you been helped lately?