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Golden Guide Career Advice: Smile More, Help More

Lydia Lazar

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Golden Tip No. 27: You Get What You Give

Golden Guide Career Advice is a series from the AMA in partnership with Lydia Lazar, author of Dean Lazar’s Golden Guide: Pragmatic Career Advice for Smart Young People. A new tip in the series will be posted each Tuesday—all tips are available here.

Do you have a career question? Contact Lazar at deardeanlazar@gmail.com—the answer may appear in a future post.

Is the glass half full or half empty? Are you an optimist or a pessimist? However you feel about the world, remember that when you are interacting with people, they see and react to what you show them. If you offer a positive outlook on life, a can-do attitude and a smile, you will generally get a better response than if you scowl and present yourself as critical, disappointed or disillusioned.

One of the most powerful strategies for increasing your social capital is to ask others, “How can I help you?” You may think that you don’t have any way to help older, more powerful or more well-placed people, but that isn’t true. And anyway, it’s always a good idea to try to help others—what goes around, comes around.

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Helping those around you can be as simple as listening and being there for them when they need a friend. It can be more, too—for example, you can help edit a cover letter, do a mock interview or be an audience for someone practicing their elevator pitch. Over time, it becomes a habit to explore the social and professional overlaps you may have with new people you meet.

This is the brilliance of using social networking tools like LinkedIn after you meet someone IRL. You can each individually build your social capital and also potentially create a bond that can grow into a personal or professional friendship.

Giving of yourself can take many forms, of course, and volunteering your time and efforts for causes you care about is a tried-and-true way to meet kindred spirits. You are much more than your job or your career, so don’t forget to nurture your curiosity through reading widely and connecting with others who share your passions. Whether it is urban gardening, rescue pets or cleaning up plastics in the ocean, there is a group you can connect with and support.

Bring your best self to the world and no matter what happens in your work life, you will be rewarded over time with a rich network of human connections and a truly fulfilling sense of well-being.

Photo by Joseph Greve on Unsplash.


Dean Lazar's Golden Guide

For more career tips, read Dean Lazar’s Golden Guide: Pragmatic Career Advice for Smart Young People, available on Amazon and at your local bookstore. Do you have a career question? Contact Lazar at deardeanlazar@gmail.com—the answer may appear in a future post.

Lydia Lazar is founder and president of LHL Consulting. She is the former associate dean for recruitment and career services at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy, and previously, dean of international law and policy overseeing international student admissions (LLM) at Chicago-Kent College of Law.