How to #Standapart in Five Minutes or Less

graphic like_0Whatever you think about Dr. Adam Grant and the recent New York Times article, “Is Giving the Secret to Getting Ahead,” (and believe me, 255 comments worth of strong opinions abound), I think the bottom-line concept is pretty strong: give a bit and get a lot back.

If you didn’t catch the article, in it author Susan Dominus takes a look at the career of Grant: a Wharton professor, Google’s “big problem” fix-it guy and author of Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success. His basic theory is that a person’s effectiveness at work increases when they are motivated by helping others, whatever the field. He is also a self-identified over-giver with nearly obsessive instincts for service.

But the end-of-the-day lesson is this: giving is good. It doesn’t have to be a year of mentorship or $1000 to charity or a mission to a third-world country (those are VERY good). In fact, there’s a #standapart gem in the article that the author calls “the five minute favour” – something she claims that Grant “virtually never says no to…something that will help someone out — an introduction, a quick suggestion — but cost him very little, relative to impact.”

The point is to get over the busy-myth and find small ways to connect with people, to be indispensable and to be generous – in spirit, in time and in knowledge. Here’s 4 things you can do in five minutes or less to make people like you and #standapart:

Endorse or Recommend Someone on LinkedIn

This ‘give’ can actually take less than five seconds. Next time you’re updating your LinkedIn Profile, or visiting someone else’s, note the blue box at the top of the page that asks, “Does ____ have these skills or expertise?” Click endorse if you agree. They’ll get an email notifying them about your endorsement in their inbox- and they’ll likely endorse or recommend you back.

Connect with an Old Contact

Grant actually has a tickler in his calendar for this one, “reminding him, once a month, to get in touch with a contact he likes but with whom he has temporarily lost touch.  The author cites a study in which Grant determined old friends are often even more valuable than current ones, “because they intersect with different worlds and therefore have more fresh ideas.” A quick email to ask, “what’s new” could open an unexpected door.

Give a ‘Like’

People want to feel validated So, if a co-worker is regularly updating his LinkedIn feed with company news or related articles, throw them a ‘like.’ Or, better yet, when you’re in your next meeting, bring up someone’s recent win. The gentle “lift” of a team member, can raise your status too.

Send an introduction

“Dear X, I’ve been working with Y and I think you two have a lot in common. X you might be able to help Y with Z – X has proven invaluable to me in Z. Y’s got a great eye for XXX; Y I think you could benefit from X’s insights.” In a single email, you’ve established yourself as a connector and gifted someone a new contact.

And if all else fails, make a pot of coffee. A consistent, team-oriented contribution, no matter how small, is sure to get you noticed and make people appreciate you. Whether you aspire to be the chief-fixer at Google or something more down to earth, giving is part-instinct, part muscle-memory – don’t give it another thought, just give.