Scott’s Thoughts: Good Acts

“A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love.”

Saint Basil (329-379); bishop of Cesarea

Image of Saint BasilEven Basil of Caesarea knew it wasn’t our fragile promises that made our reputations, but our durable acts. A good word can be easily forgotten, but a good deed grows over time.

This is not to suggest that compliments are wasted. Of course a (true) kind word can brighten a person’s day and encourage them to pay it out in kind. But the deepest value comes in acts of generosity, especially the unexpected acts which surprise and delight those around you.

Research suggests that people become acclimated to new possessions more quickly than they do pleasant memories. This essentially means that the memory of a kind act is likely to endure longer than your average “item of value.” While a complimentary book or calendar may deliver a momentary flash of goodwill, a gesture which generates a memory will have a greater impact. Gifts which are experiential, rather than material, are a better bet.

If you are in the habit of giving people a gift card or other small monetary present as a kind gesture, you might do well to consider doubling your gift. Rather than a $10 gift card, why not give one $5 gift card for your contact, plus a second $5 gift card for them to give to someone else? Sure, they could spend both on themselves, but they’ll probably be more inclined to give one away to a friend. Not only will they enjoy the free latte, but they’ll also have the pleasure of treating someone else as well.

Finally, always look for ways in which something you do on behalf of someone else can contribute to their lives. The gift of your time, well-applied, is a long-lasting gesture that people will remember.

And lest you think this all sounds like strategy to maximize your networking return, consider the potent impact these beneficial acts have on your own mood and outlook on the world. Even if all the good acts in the world fail to bring you one new client, your life will be considerable lightened through the halo effect of kind acts.

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