We all remember people who treat us in a special way, especially in the work-world. These people differentiate themselves by not only how much they care but how they show it. We admire these rare individuals and marvel at their ability to nurture relationships and influence.
Go ahead, write down the names of a few professionals who’ve treated you in a special way (define “special” however you’d like):
How many people came to mind? Experience tells me that most of you will have trouble coming up with five names, which speaks to how infrequently we come across someone who gives selflessly or supports us unconditionally. Some would say these people love us professionally – a concept you may not have considered before.
However you define special, these people clearly differentiate themselves and stand for something good. But how exactly do they show us we’re special to them?
Here are a few ways to tell who is paying special attention to you and your career:
Make introductions. They proactively connect you with others you should know, can help you, or that you can help. They are well-connected and influential and share their relationships with you.
Remember special days. They have invested enough time and care into the relationship with you to know about milestones in your life. Not only that, but they have made note of these important times in your life. I’m not talking about birthdays which are easy to find on social media and, therefore, less meaningful. What I am talking about are kid’s birthdays, a citizenship anniversary, or the date of an honorable discharge from the military.
Communicate differently. They understand the power of the human voice. Making a phone call takes extra effort and it’s noticed. A phone call also differentiates these people who don’t take the standard approach of email or text. Just think how infrequently you receive a call from someone you don’t work with directly or someone who calls just because. That’s the point.
Put pen to paper. When was the last time you received a hand-written note? You probably remember who sent it and why. It made you feel special because it happens so infrequently. These people know that the written word still matters much more than the digital equivalent. And the reason is simple: it takes more time and effort and reflects the significance of a relationship.
Share watch and reading lists. They demonstrate their character and convey personal interests through what they watch and read. These folks have likely recommended a book or TV show based on your personal interests. What starts with them (a book or TV show), ends with you. That’s selfless.
Acknowledge your passions. They not only know that your daughter loves horses, but they invite you to an equestrian event. Or they know you’re working to better articulate vision and strategy in your professional role and share articles on the topic. They show they care about you, and your family, personally.
Reflect your interests. They show interest in special experiences that are meaningful to you. For example, they share a conference for you to attend together or connect you to others who can benefit from your expertise on a topic. Once again, it starts with them, but ends up with you.
Once you know who treats you in a special way professionally, it’s your turn to reciprocate. Or, better yet, set the precedent for the next selfless gesture by taking it yourself.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering who makes my special list, here it is:
I deeply admire each of you.
With professional love,