As Jerry Seinfeld once said in an interview promoting his wildly popular series, “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee”, coffee has a “unique quality, in conversation”. Still, I do think there’s something about the setting of a coffee shop that inspires great discussion, and it was no different this week as I was having a cup with a friend of mine.
Like my love of coffee did to my love of conversation, we were catching up, and she asked me, “How do you network effectively?". As I explained how I believe that networking is all about providing value to others, I was reminded of another question that had been posed to me - at a time when I had also been drinking coffee - via the Alignable small business social network: “What is the most rewarding part of your job?”
My answer was:
The most rewarding part of my job is knowing that I have helped someone else get on stage or otherwise tell their story with more confidence, more insight and more enthusiasm.
I realized that the networking question and Alignable’s question are actually the same question, with the same answer: providing value. One of the keys to success in business is making sure that the value you provide is the most rewarding part of your job. Knowing where your value lies and how it impacts you and others offers many benefits as a business owner, an employee, a speaker or thought leader:
It keeps you centered: Forbes columnist and Human Workplace CEO Liz Ryan says that consulting work is helpful in identifying the pain that you solve. As an entrepreneur, this is not only important in giving you a business purpose, but it also serves as a reference point for you when things get tough (and they will!). Why are you in business in the first place?
It keeps you motivated: This dovetails beautifully with the first point, but it also stands on its own. No matter how much you love what you’re doing, it can be exhausting when you’re working hard. Having your sense of purpose will get you through late nights at the office or making what feels like the one millionth edit to your talk.
It keeps you authentic: We all work to make money. For those of us who write and speak, it’s a wonderful promotional tool that can serve to make more money or valuable connections. However, if that’s all that your business or business-adjacent activities mean to you, that won’t inspire people to collaborate with you or hear your message. People respond to authenticity, whether it’s in your work or in your words.
In speechwriting and in life, it’s important to keep tabs on which questions inspire the best answers.