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Wednesday, October 12, 2005

How to be Supremely Help-able

I hadn't planned to write this post, it just came out of the events of the day, and I thought I'd share it because there is a lesson.

Being online for 10 years, with a fairly prolific reputation for knowing plenty of valuable stuff about marketing and the web, I am asked a LOT of questions. Every week, dozens of total strangers drop into my inbox with a question. Being the way I am (I suppose, a busy body who can't ignore a legitimate email! LOL) I usually answer within a couple days if not sooner. And, I'm also extremely active on a lot of small business marketing forums and discussion lists, and have been on dozens over the years. There, I respond to people's questions in either an email or threaded discussion format.

I love to help people and I love to teach. It's in my blood - I have a lot of teachers in my lineage.

But, I also really like to be appreciated. I think we all do - but me, I kind of thrive on it. And if there is one big huge beef I have about being online, it is that people very often treat me like a "bot" - an automated script that just spews out answers. I suspect people forget there is a person on the other end. I wish I had a dollar for every question I've answered in email, in some detail, which was never even acknowledged as received, never mind appreciated.

But, it doesn't stop me - I keep going because its in my blood, like I said.

Well, today something happened that really made me take note. In the Action Plan Marketing Info Guru Forum, Dr. Barry Morris was struggling to figure some issues with his web site. I wrote him some ideas and mocked up one of them. He responded to the forum to thank me - and scored a point right there. Moments later, he actually called, to let me know he really appreciated my assistance. 10 minutes or so of phone chat with this delightful gentleman, and I happily gave him even more insight on the subject. When I got off the phone, I even did a little moment of design work to help him, for free. And later that evening, he'd implemented my suggestion, and actually wrote on his blog about me and others who had helped him today. And then again, a thank you to the forum for everyone who had come to his aid.

And I thought "WOW! Now THAT'S some one who knows how to be supremely help-able."

Three things happened here.

1. Barry made me feel terrific about the 15 or so minutes I stepped up today. Not a shred of grouchy or resentful or put upon. Friggin' GREAT.

2. That great feeling provided an infusion of energy to keep providing hints and tips and input to the complete strangers who pop into my life every week asking for my time.

3. Barry virtually guaranteed that not only will I not forget him, I will stop dead in my tracks to help him again, any time I can.

Food for thought...