Yesterday’s mail included the latest issue of COMtalk, the alumni magazine of the College of Communications (COM) at Boston University, where I got my Masters degree. Leafing through the pages, I saw the face of an old friend and former colleague, Steve Quigley, along with an article about a big award Steve has received from the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). He was named the 2011 Outstanding Educator.
Besides making me smile, the article prompted me to recall the path Steve followed to become an assistant professor at BU 12 years ago. You see, I had received a note from the woman who had been our boss when we worked together at a Boston PR firm. She had close ties with the folks at COM, which had just given her an outstanding alumni award. She told me they were looking for someone to teach PR for a year; she asked if I was interested. The fact that she would put in a good word for me combined with the fact that I was an alum and had passed the accreditation exam of the PRSA, an important credential for anyone in the PR field, made my chances of getting the job quite good.
I thought it over and decided I did not want to give up the clients who I would have to leave behind in order to take the position. The story could have stopped there except for the habit I have of letting others know when I hear of a good opportunity that I’m not interested in pursuing. So I sent an e-mail to a PRSA group of sole practitioners I was part of to see if anyone might be interested. Very quickly Steve replied and said he was.
The rest, as they say, is history. Steve turned a one-year gig into a 12-year-and-counting gig and is now an assistant professor…and clearly a very successful one.
I am sure many of you have similar stories, where either you’ve been on the giving or receiving end of a great lead. The reason I like these stories is that often we have absolutely no idea what an impact a simple act of sharing information can have.
One of my favorite personal examples is that of a fellow freelancer who, unbeknownst to me, was in dire straits when I sent him information on a potential new client. My client roster was full, so I shared the lead I’d received with this friend, who ended up landing the client. Some time later, he told me that it had been a lifesaver. He was thinking he might have to call it quits on his freelancing career when along came this excellent client. It was so gratifying to know I had helped him out of a real bad spot.
I bring these stories up now because I worry that with the hectic pace of business life these days, people are taking less time to pass along news of opportunities they come across that might be helpful to others. Are we too rushed to take time to perform such simple acts of kindness? I hope not, but I worry that we have.
The next time an opportunity comes your way that you can’t take advantage of, please take the time to pass it along to others. It only takes a minute and, as the examples I shared above show, it can be a life-altering act to the recipient.