Giving feels good, and scientists have actually proven that generosity is also good for your well being and health. Making a difference is good for employee engagement and culture. But beyond this, experts note, generosity is good for the bottom line of your business as well. Here's how.
Giftology author John Ruhlin notes that nearly everybody likes gifts. The little touches such as getting a Trackr for the friend who keeps losing his keys, or a Sugarwish candy box for the admin who's paved the way for a hard-to-get appointment are nice touches that express in a simple way that you appreciate someone's friendship or the extra attention they've given to a critical task.
In almost every case, the gift produces warm feelings and a desire to help or support the person again. And as Ruhlin notes, anyone who does not respond favorably to a token of appreciation is likely not a client worth having and would respond negatively in any circumstance at all.
It is important, of course, that the gift be a token of genuine appreciation, and not a bid for an expected quid pro quo exchange. Says consultant Curtis Hale: "Remember, you are out to build a relationship, not just to win a bit of business."
Ideally, you should plan your generosity budget in advance, Ruhlin advises, and suggests that you earmark 2-5 percent of the revenues from a client to gifting activities that will remind you to show your appreciation of the customer in a tangible way.
Former content manager Leo Dirr loves the concept of generosity so much he left his writing role to launch a new business, The Generosity Engine, to teach the practice of giving to others. In coaching calls he teaches clients to identify their most valuable relationships and to strengthen those connections through activities such as social media support, award entries and handwritten thank you letters and notes in addition to traditional gifts.
Dirr teaches the science of relationship building by coaching clients to set "giving goals" through tools that provide relationship scores. They create Kindness Calendars and Generosity Journals. These activities provide structure and metrics for giving. But they also reinforce the feel-good rewards of giving, which science has shown will increase the giver's sense of well-being and contribute to the giver's engagement, health and longevity, too.
It's not necessary to take all of the steps of giving on your own to reap the good news benefits, Dirr maintains. Those who are pressed with time can hire The Generosity Engine for functions such as:
• Writing or editing of thank-you notes
• Researching ideal gifts for customers, partners, employees, family and friends
• Setting up online alerts to keep executives informed of important news about their connections and companies
• Assistance with handwritten notes and letters for a more personal touch
• Writing or editing nomination letters for awards and leadership positions
• Writing or editing LinkedIn recommendations
• Planning memorable activities that allow you to "go deep" with a particular person
• Writing and designing invitations to dinner parties and special events.
The power of giving can start with as little as a goal to do three good things a day, and record them. Then, when the spirit moves you to do so, add a little more. Share your outcomes with others and they'll be inspired to join in.
Business consultant Jason Sisneros, for example, encourages clients at every level of an organization to begin each day with a fundamental question: "How can I add massive value to my team members and clients today?"
Dirr recommends learning to measure your life in "smiles per hours."
For many organizations with a culture of giving, the rising growth of their profit is evidence enough of a program well done. For those who'd like to get more specific, however, here's a study from the CECP of New York that will help. The Giving Forum has some suggestions for ROI measurements on the results of giving as well.
Any way you look at it, giving is good for both givers and recipients, experts say. Try incorporating a few of these practices in your business this quarter. Your clients (and employees) will thank you, and your revenue will benefit, too.