After graduating from Kennesaw State University, my first full time position was with a marketing technology start up based in Atlanta. Fresh out of college and full of unrealistic perfectionist tendencies, this was one of the largest professional growth challenges I’ve encountered. The experience, however, taught me more than many seasoned professionals gain in a decade of corporate work.
One of my first, and most important, lessons was from the president of the company. I asked him a question regarding information to include in an email, and he quickly responded, “Does it add value?”
I stopped in my tracks, considered his words, and could see that he was clearly correct. It’s a simple concept, but one that is commonly overlooked by eager young professionals. I polished my email, and then visited my LinkedIn profile to remove positions which contributed zero value to the career path I was pursuing. Next, I hopped on Facebook and Twitter to remove content and photos from the past which no longer reflect my personality or goals. His advice not only changed my social profiles and emails, but also the way I approach conversations and relationships.
When writing an email, I now think to myself, “Does sharing this information contribute value to the conversation? Or is it somehow self serving or meaningless?” More often than not, I remove the extra information, and suddenly my email flows flawlessly. Likewise, when catching up with friends or meeting someone new, I’ve found it’s best to share only what is necessary and to rely primarily on asking the other person questions. I’m certainly happy to share as much information as requested, but now see the crucial difference between adding value and simply creating noise.
You may also notice a gap between my blog posts. This is because, while I write an article each week, I sometimes find that the topic is self-serving and less applicable to others. There is no reason to share an article which will not add value to the community. This priority has strengthened my intuitive preference for quality over quantity, and I am forever grateful for the kind advice I was given that day.
What are your tips for adding value? Have you encountered a situation in which you wish someone would have monitored what they shared with you?