Give First

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There is one golden rule to success. It’s one many talk about. It’s one few remember. It’s one that makes these digital social channels even that much more powerful. Before taking anything. Before asking for business. Before pushing your links and sales pitches on anybody. Do this one thing:

Give First.

One of the main reasons Marketers and Entrepreneurs grapple with the online social spaces is that they look at them and ask, "where’s the money?" or "where’s the ROI?" Both questions have an underlying sentiment to them: "how can these channels help grow my business and increase my sales?"

All fair questions. All the wrong questions to ask when getting started.

What if we switched the questions to be based on the notion of adding and giving value before taking anything? "where can my company share our knowledge?", "how can we provide information that is valuable to our consumers and business partners?" and "how can we help these channels to grow?"

Would clients and potential customers be more inclined to work with you if you were constantly and consistently adding value to your community?

On the way to the airport today, the taxi driver was listening to talk radio. An Economist was being interviewed and the reporter asked, "what can businesses do to stay alive and make it through this economic crisis?" HIs answer was simply, "add value. Do more and give more than your competitors." You could take that to mean that adding value will be a huge cost. Discounts cost money, and so does adding more to something that you were previously able to sell without any value-add. But, that’s just skimming the surface. The truth is you can give many things that cost nothing and by using many of the digital channels, you can even spread the value far and wide.

The trick is in doing it first. And doing it not because you’re desperate and sales are slagging, but because your company believes that by opening up, sharing and becoming a little more transparent, people will see who you really are. They will like it. They will buy from you. They will tell others to buy from you. They will become a part of your community.

The problem is, people see giving first as a sign of weakness.

They see giving first as a sign of desperation. They believe that a successful business is not about giving, but about taking.

Why not discover which works best for you before jumping to any conclusions? Why not give first – without any expectations – just to see how it works out for you?


  1. Hi Mitch,
    I’d like to add, from an anecdotal perspective, that small town establishments have always had to operate like that if they wanted support of their community.
    The wealthy businessman who takes from the town was never welcomed, and if locals have other options to buy the things they need they’d buy from someone else.
    The internet, search, and social software have shrunk the world and probably made it a lot more similar to the small town model. Especially for large corporations with an international reach and many competitors.
    I’m not a business expert, but that’s kind of how I see things.

  2. Hey Mitch, I definitely couldn’t agree with you more. Dan Pink’s new book The Adventures of Johnny Bunko lay’s out six lessons of satisfying, productive careers and lesson #6 is “it’s not about you”. Also as the old saying goes “the more you give the more your receive. From my perspective when you give you are building trust and a relationship and these two ideas are of the utmost importance in business. As usual your posts are spot on.

  3. This is your best post ever! You have put your finger EXACTLY on the the value and the problem of social media.
    Social media makes it easy and nearly free to reach out and give BUT it takes time and patience because it is about relationships and relationships take time.
    From this point on, I will point customers straight to this blog post. Thank you for doing us all such a huge favour.

  4. Mitch. You’ve nailed it.
    With the increase of clutter, being relevant is of increased importance, but not relevancy just for the sake of being clever or novel (cough Skittles cough cough), but by adding true value.
    Spot on man!

  5. Nailed it.
    Giving demonstrates three things in a subject area:
    1. Passion – love for topic.
    2. Commitment – dedication to learning and improving command of said topic.
    3. Transparency – that you are open to scrutiny about how you follow your passion and acquire/improve knowledge.
    In many regards, giving is our LEAN process to providing better insights/advice.

  6. Totally right. Contribute what your best at and rewards will follow. Not sharing your abilities limits your potential.

  7. Just wanted to say ‘you nailed it Mitch’ but I see that line has already been used. The give first idea holds true on so many levels. I know for sure I would not have the podcast listeners I have today if I had not first listened to other shows and gave feedback and encouragement to those I felt deserved it- but WITHOUT holding my other hand out asking for a plug in return. It has to be true giving, which is not conditional.

  8. One of the main reasons Marketers and Entrepreneurs grapple with the online social spaces is that they look at them and ask, “where’s the money?” or “where’s the ROI?” Both questions have an underlying sentiment to them: “how can these channels help grow my business and increase my sales?”

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