And vice versa
Inside of me is this hungry need to always do right by others; so that I can do right by myself. Being nice to people who need it, and always trying to be helpful (even sometimes when I should just shut up and let a lesson be learned). I think that there are a lot of people who would quickly forget someone being nice or helpful to them, but there are those who wouldn't, and I do like to think the idea would be passed on when they see someone in need. Plus, if I can connect with those who think like I do, I’m finding more people who might also work like me. They are important to keep around.
It’s a part of my personal life, and it’s also a part of how I like to operate as a freelancer. It has shaped my career in a very subtle and organic way; much like water might shape a little bit of sediment over some time. These little gestures do sometimes get remembered, and people reach out weeks, months, and years later and throw some work my way, or ask for my thoughts on something.
When a job comes my way, typically the person I’m working with will have a good idea who who I am, what I do, and what they want me to do with them. That’s where being useful comes in. As they say; put the kind of work you want to do, on your portfolio. Because that’s what you’ll ultimately get hired to do more of. I get to be useful because I’m already very good at it.
But what if I’m not? Or what if I can’t do it because of some other reason? I don’t tend to turn down work I do want to do, even if imposer syndrome says I can’t do it (you can learn some things on the job, but not all of it). Maybe I’m too busy, or it’s out of scope, or I just generally think it’s better to delegate that job to someone else. That’s where being helpful comes in. They say to never lie on a CV. If someone asks me for something else that I can’t do, I like to politely remind myself that while I might be able to do it, it’s not very useful to do it for them (or myself). But I know someone who is, and that’s how I can be helpful. I might forward that job, and in doing so, I’m passing on that bit of trust they had in me to that person I just recommended. I do think it goes a long way to making meaningful relationships with clients and a network of peers or other freelancers.
I do wonder, are there people who are very successful in both their personal life and work life who are incredibly unhelpful, and not very useful at all? Probably! Perhaps this is more of a personality thing than a general freelancer advice thing, but I do think life would be better if we were more helpful and useful to each other.
It’s the secret power of saying “no, but”.