I asked someone recently a question that seemed quite natural to ask. It felt good. I didn’t over think it. It just made sense at the time. I asked her:
How can I help?
I was reminded of this brief exchange recently when I read this article on the networking power of asking the same question (I think, via @Nilofer)
I think it might be the most important question we can ask each other in the next 10 years, and not just because it will help us network (always a useful skill).
Now, there is nothing other-worldly about what I did. I am way down the long list of Good Samaritans. Nor is it the first time I have proffered help. I had no particular motivation to ask, no quid pro quo, no long game. What was different was the context.
The person I asked I do not know. We have tangential interaction in a social business network. Our roles are different, maybe our motivations too, I don’t know.
The reason I asked her “How can I help?” is that I saw an opportunity for forward momentum – for her, for the network, for me. She is clearly someone trying to make things happen in that network, in social business. I want her to succeed. Not specifically so I can too, but because her success will help many people, many enterprises, the future of work (no less).
I have a responsibility to help that future to manifest because the world of social business has opened up many doors to me. I have learned more best practices, processes, enterprise and leadership understanding in the last 3 years than I have in the previous 10.
How? By actively navigating the arena of how works actually gets done today, how it will get done tomorrow (that’s socially, by the way) and what might be the next iteration of work over the next decade. And by doing so with fellow travellers, many ahead of me (hanging on their wide and inviting coat-tails), many more more beside me, companion-in-arms.
The future of work will be markedly different to the one we experience now – read Ross Dawson on automation and outsourcing or Harald Jarche on the value of work. So people – anyone, anywhere – who are trying to make it happen deserve encouragement and assistance. They deserve you asking, me asking:
How can I help?
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