Networking And Stone Soup

In the tale, Stone Soup, stingy villagers have no interest in sharing their food with anyone but their own.  

However, when a peddler offers to share some stone soup with them (essentially rocks in a pot of boiling water), one by one, the villagers begin to share – a head of cabbage here, some salt beef there – and before long a pot of delicious “stone” soup awaits them.

This tale suggests that generosity and altruism are contagious. Nicholas A. Christakis, M.D., Ph.D. and James H. Fowler, Ph.D tested this assertion and shared their results in their book Connected.

120 students were put into groups of four. Each group member was given some money to perform a series of tasks. Members both profited and lost in this capitalistic exercise. Afterward, members had the option of giving some funds to others at their own expense.

The exercise was repeated, with different group configurations. In the first few rounds, no money was gifted.

Unbeknownst to the participants, one of them was a plant — someone in on the experiment. This person was the “Stone Soup Peddler.” At some point, the Stone Soup Peddler started to give away some of his money to others.

In the exercises that followed this exhibition of generosity, the people who benefited from the gift gave more. Even people who had only witnessed the gifting began giving more. These altruistic gestures began to spread through the group.

In business, you depend on others giving to you. You look for people to give you information, and to share referrals, insights, and ideas with you.

But people don’t just give; they are somehow moved and inspired to do so.

As the tale and the study illustrate, you have the power to inspire generosity through your own generosity. Any simple gesture can be contagious – a simple referral, an introduction, or just sharing valuable information. This will inspire your network to give to you and to others.

228) The Seeds Of Altruism

To build a network you need to give to others, which isn’t always easy. But, the starting point for giving to others is being thoughtful.  You know, being considerate of the feelings of others (whether you know them or not) and finding ways you can have a positive impact on their lives.

In his book, Winning Without Intimidation, Bob Burg indicates that while being thoughtful does not always come naturally, it’s a simple idea that requires no incredible skills.

Burg maintains that being thoughtful is nothing more than a habit and encompasses such occasional and basic acts as:

  • Holding a door open for someone;
  • Paying someone a well-deserved compliment; or
  • Parking a bit farther from the entrance.

Each of these is simple and represents only a tiny portion of an almost endless list of thoughtful acts. If you focus on being thoughtful towards others, eventually it becomes a habit. From there, giving more to others will quickly follow.

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184) Giving Never Gets Old

The joy you get from helping others never really fades.

In a study, researchers gave approximately 100 participants five dollars per day for five days. Randomly, half the participants were instructed to spend the windfall on themselves, each day purchasing the same thing, like a great cup of coffee or a snack.

The other half were instructed to use their daily money to benefit another in a consistent fashion, like a leaving an extraordinarily tip or a donation.

Throughout the process, the researchers measured the level of happiness the participants felt relative to their daily habit of spending or giving. While the happiness of the spenders dropped as the experiment wore on, the happiness of the givers held firm.

Helping others is a joyful thing, for you and the person you’re helping. And it’s good to know that as you endeavor to help those around you, that joyful feeling will never really get old.

Like what you’ve read? Prefer to hear it as a podcast or daily flash briefing? Subscribe to the Networking Rx Minute podcast here or wherever you get your podcasts.

Building A Networking Relationship: 1 of 7

Building A Networking Relationship: 1 of 7

“How Do I Go About Getting Others To Know, Like & Trust Me?” In the world of business and professional networking, that is the $64,000 question.

One Answer is Never Stop Giving. The Golden Rule of Networking states “give first, get second.” In short, if you want to get things from your network, you need to give to it. Focus on giving to others … give referrals … give additional contacts … give opportunities … give information … give encouragement … give support … give, give, give.

When you give to others they cannot help but Know, Like and Trust you. As a result, the people you give to will want to return the generosity. In addition, you will develop the reputation of being a “generous person.” This will inspire others to want to contribute to you, as they come to believe that you are likely to give back.

This is powerful and should become almost a daily habit.

  • Share information with others and they will share information back.
  • Give referrals to centers of influence in your network and they will go out of their way to return the deed.
  • Help your prospective clients with things unrelated to what you sell and you will be forever on the top of their mind (perhaps referring you clients down the road).
  • Be supportive of your clients and vendors and they will “rave” to others about you.

With everyone you encounter, ask yourself, “In what way could I help this person?” When the answers come to you, take action. That will build Know, Like, and Trust like nothing else.