Help Yourself!

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At least four times this week I’ve been asked by someone for help and I’ve politely declined. It’s true that I have a large network and knowledge that comes from years of experience in the industry, and do help people quite a bit. However, I see many people who don’t realize how much they can achieve on their own these days, and think that in some cases it’s better in the long run to show them how and why they should take more initiative. Here’s a short list of the benefits of ‘helping yourself,’ with examples of the many ways we are all more empowered now.

Notoriety. Often people ask ‘can you post this news on your LinkedIn group,’ not realizing that they can post it themselves. What’s the benefit for them to post it? If the news is interesting and relevant to the group, they’ll get some ‘good karma’ from group members for pointing out something useful, and expand their reach. Regardless of your motives, being more well known is a benefit (with the exception of those in the witness protecion program ;).

Opportunity. Together with Notoriety, much opportunity comes when you help yourself. Take the example of posting items to LinkedIn groups–let’s say you post an article about stem cells. You’re automatically letting people know that you’re interested in stem cells. Perhaps someone in the field will look at your profile and offer to connect. The possibilities for receiving highly relevant opportunities are endless when you help yourself in this way.

Knowledge. I am often asked to meet people who want me to tell them what I know about San Diego Biotech. Yes, I do ‘get around’ and may have knowledge, some anecdotal, that others don’t, but I am a function of what I read and do. We set up the San Diego Biotechnology Network website with news and information that helps anyone come up to speed quickly. In fact, I know of three reports that just came out over the past few weeks about California Biotech. Other resources are Xconomy, RSS feeds, Twitter… You may say that you don’t understand these new tools, I would argue that they will become as important as radio, TV, and the internet, so buck up and learn them ;) Today, you really have the opportunity to become an expert in a wide variety of fields, for free.

Control. Sometimes people want to post irrelevant items to the LinkedIn groups I manage. Because they are irrelevant, members get irritated and feel as though they’re being spammed, and I have to delete the posting and potentially remove the member. When this happens, I tell the person that it is much more effective to start their own interest group, something we covered more generally earlier. By starting a group, rather than always trying to find one that fits, you have much more control. The topic needs to be chosen carefully, but we all have valuable offerings for others. (Note: this may seem to conflict with what I said in the ‘Opportunity’ section–however, I always tell people if they question whether a posting is appropriate, they can always ask me.)

Almost on cue, Amy Winehouse’s ‘Help Yourself‘ started playing in the background as I wrote this post…corroborating an earlier post. I hope that these examples inspire you to think about more ways you can help yourself and ultimately achieve more of your goals. Also, if I tell you to ‘help yourself,’ that you’ll understand why.

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