This is a continuation of the Top 10 Ways for Reaching ‘SUCCESS’ series. Please check out my first article if you did not do so already. If you have already read Part I, please continue on to Part II…
#7—Engage in philanthropy
Wealthy individuals often engage in philanthropy. This act of charity not only helps other people, but it makes the giver feel better about themselves with the knowledge that they are making the world a better place. The notions of ‘good will’, ‘karma’ and other epithets that describe altruistic behavior all center around helping other people in order to feel good about oneself. While people often feel philanthropy is reserved for wealthy individuals, the fact is anyone can engage in charitable causes. In order to be successful, you should also be giving something back to the community too, whether it be money, time or a service.
#6—Have a written retainer agreement for any service you provide
If you provide a service, or will someday provide a service for clients, always have a written retainer agreement before you perform any work for that person. If it is someone in your network, you can give that person a discounted rate, but you should never work for free, unless it is for a charitable cause or you do not need the money (see tip #7). The fact is there are many people out there who will want to use your talents at no cost to them. Do not be persuaded if someone says they will pay you later—always ask for a percentage of the overall fee before you begin your work. If it is a long-term project, divide up the fee in stages. This will save you heartache and frustration in case the person decides not to pay at any stage of the work. If you are in a profession that has ethical rules (such as law) it can get a bit more complicated, but this rule still applies at the onset of every case an attorney takes on.
Warning: if a potential client says they do not have the money to pay you (and you really need the money), then feel free to move on to someone else. There are plenty of fish in the sea and you are entitled to being compensated for your work at all times.
#5—Write for blogs and other publications
There are no exceptions: writing makes us immortal. It is how we are remembered when we are gone. Many individuals become successful because they write about a certain topic and become experts in that field. Whether the topic is about chemistry, fishing or music, the pen is one of the best ways to advertise your talent and skill. Remember: writing and expressing your opinion takes courage. Even though we live in a democracy, your opinion can be criticized and attacked in the most vicious of ways. It is still important to express yourself and make your voice known to the world.
Having mentors is extremely important. While this tip goes hand in hand with networking, mentorship is slightly different. When you network, many of your contacts may be casual acquaintances or colleagues of mutual friends. A mentor is a more personalized relationship who can offer advice and guidance to their mentee. Usually, the mentor is more established in a certain field. Even if you are considered an ‘expert’, it is still important to develop mentor relationships with other people.
#3—Network, network, network!
I can’t stress networking enough. The people you associate with are often the determining factor to whether you will succeed in your given field. If you associate with the wrong people, they will influence your behavior, your personality and even your thought process. It is imperative, therefore, that you become friendly with not only the individuals who are successful, but to know the individuals who are more successful than you are.
Remember this: no matter what stage of life you are in, it is always crucial to expand your network. The more people you know, the more opportunities you will have. Your network will have an impact on your job title, your social status and even your self esteem! People often find their mate through their mutual friends, too. With facebook, LinkedIn and a multitude of other social media websites, networking is easier than ever.
Check back for next week’s article featuring the top two most important tips.
Andrew Bruskin was president of The National Society of Collegiate Scholars’ National Leadership Council from 2007-2008 and has been president of its Alumni Advisory Board since 2010. He is chairman of the board of directors of Ecnaillá Groupe and will be working for a law firm in New York City upon graduating William & Mary Law School. For questions or comments, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and, of course, on Facebook.