As your social media numbers grow, so do the numbers of people who see you as an opportunity. Some of them see YOU as just a number - a number that can benefit them. And many of those people do almost nothing to hide how much they want to use that for themselves, for their own benefit. I get increasing numbers of offers for things, but I turn many of them down. Sometimes, it’s because I don’t like or use the product being offered. Other times, I just don’t like how the person approached me about it. If they are pushy, abrupt to the point of rudeness, or they seem as though they are being deceptive, I’ll often ignore their messages. I’ve reached a point where I can be choosy, and when someone tries to tell you who they are the first time - listen! So if someone rubs me the wrong way right off the bat, I go with that gut feeling.
I do recognize that I’m very lucky to be able to just walk away from the majority of these messages. But I also see lots of people jumping on opportunities that aren’t really right for them, almost out of a sense of desperation, and I see other people becoming almost predatory in their pursuit of trying to grow their business. I’ve been thinking about it a lot, because it seems everyone is trying to do a side hustle these days; the current economy just about demands it. What I’ve observed is that there are definitely some do’s and don’ts I see as I develop my own side hustles and work alongside other successful side hustlers. So here are my thoughts on the matter; as usual, your mileage may vary, but this is what has worked for me and many of my successful associates (and the opposite is what I’ve seen in people who can’t seem to get anywhere, or they do and then crash and burn HARD).
I have often said that it’s many of my relationships that have given me the opportunities I’ve benefitted so much from in this industry. It’s true - the relationships 100% matter. I typically seek out the relationship for the sake of the relationship - I loved that person’s technique, so I watched their videos about it and then engaged with them when I tried it out myself. I liked how that person explains things on stage at hair shows - they are relatable and easy to understand, so I sent them a note saying how much I appreciated that. And other things like that - where I reached out to people, or they reached out to me, out of a genuine appreciation, with a genuine question, with a commonality that we bonded over. It’s just about always an organic process: unplanned, spontaneous, and genuine.
And then, perhaps down the road, after I’d become actual friends with that person, an opportunity might arise. Perhaps they recommend me as a brand ambassador because they know I use that brand a lot. Perhaps they ask me to teach with them, after we had exchanged several helpful ideas with each other that improved our businesses. Perhaps I get that promotional contract because not only was my work good, but I spent extra time with some of the people helping them out at an event, and enjoyed them so much that I contacted their bosses to let them know what wonderful employees they have.
The point is, it’s about the relationships. You develop the relationships first, because you’re dealing with other humans who want to be appreciated as much as you do. You develop the relationships because having good friends and supporters is part of a good quality of life. THEN, perhaps you might be privy to extra opportunities, because you’ve done a good job at your work, and you’ve done a good job of being a decent human, so people want more for you, because they like you, and they wanna help you out. But you don’t go for the opportunities first. Because then it just seems like it’s about the money, and people don’t like to feel used that way. Build the relationships first, and trust that the opportunities will come later - they will find you.
There’s nothing wrong with being ambitious. But don’t expect others to help you. Don’t be entitled. Nobody likes that, and honestly, do you really want people being loyal to you because you guilted them into it? Because you applied so much pressure, and they were too nice to say no? Because you think you deserve it just because you asked before putting in any time or effort? Is that REALLY a good way to build a strong foundation of support, whether financially or emotionally? People don’t stick around for stuff that makes them feel bad, and guilt and pressure are unpleasant, especially when they are unnecessary. In particular, people don’t like feeling like they are simply a rung you step on as you climb the ladder to success. That strategy may work temporarily, but in the long run, those people won’t be there for you when things fall apart; they may even come to resent you and revel in, or even contribute to, your downfall.
If you want loyalty and support, do it the old fashioned way. Do YOUR part, and do it really well. Try to truly better yourself on a personal and professional level, and not just in your bank account. Appreciate people, listen and learn from those who know more than you, try to grow in every direction. This will bring the right people to you. The right people not just for your job, but for YOU. For your life. And then you win anyway, no matter how much money you’re making, because you have so many great connections. Science has shown us that that’s what actually makes us happy and content, anyway. But truly, it becomes real hard to fail when we have that safety net, because you have so many people looking out for you. The relationships can help build you up in every direction. So don’t skip that part.