So, what’s in it for you? A Reflection on Good Will in Business and Branding

Recently, we hosted our second “Startups and Hops”, centred around bringing members of the tech community together to participate in a panel discussion, make new connections and enjoy sampling unique beer from the 3 brewers in Kanata. The spirit of the event was really a celebration of technology and local entrepreneurship. Although the event had a more casual setting and was lots of fun, it was certainly organized, planned, and run with the following goals in mind; supporting the local technology community, facilitating new connections and relationships for the attendees and ourselves, hosting an event that people would be genuinely excited to attend, and ultimately doing it differently than most Ottawa networking events. The result? A night full of good beer, new friends, and listening to a diverse panel of ambitious business owners discuss everything from current technology trends to why they decided to start their own companies.

After listening to the panel and giving a big thank you to the panelists and the moderator, I began chatting with some familiar – and some new – faces in the crowd. Tons of different topics were touched on, but there was one common theme that kept popping up amongst different discussions. It sounded different from person to person, but the message was the same.

“So, why is PinPoint hosting this event?”

“Why did your company decide to pay for all this?”

“Are the PinPoint recruiters making commission off any hiring coming from this event?”

“Free food and beer? What’s the catch?”

“If I get an interview from an employer I meet here, will I have to pay a fee?”

“Where is the value for your company in events like these?”

“What’s in it for you guys?”

On the one hand, I’m not at all surprised that some people anticipated a “catch”. After all, how often do companies and brands really give something to their customers and community without getting something tangible in return? As consumers, we’re all too familiar with the customary business colloquialisms: 50% off if you sign up for our daily emails, Free shipping if you spend over 100 dollars, awesome perks if you qualify, and the list goes on. On the other hand, I was disappointed that we live in such a me, me, me society that people kept wondering what they had to forfeit to us in order to make the most of their evening. We just wanted people to have a good time!

Did we at PinPoint Talent get something out the event? Absolutely! Did those somethings have monetary value? Not so much.

So, what really was in it for us? Besides having a great time and catching up with friends, we made new connections and got our brand out in the community. We’re a small team, so a chance to meet new people who haven’t heard of us, or what we can do, goes a long way. It was undoubtedly a great branding opportunity, even though that wasn’t our primary goal.

There are a lot of people who believe that human beings are inherently selfish creatures, motivated purely by our own benefit. Others believe the exact opposite: that our social nature drives us to look after others first. Whichever theory you find yourself believing, we can all try better to be more altruistic, regardless of our “true nature”. I really believe that in business (and pretty well all areas of life) we could all benefit from performing positive actions, regardless of how much we immediately get back. Getting a return on your investment is important, but when it comes to good will, sometimes it’s worth going out of your way to make someone else’s day better. If once a day, or once a week you can ask yourself “What could I do for so-and-so?” Instead of “What can that person do for me? And how can I entice them to do it?” You can really make a difference.

Whether you are part of an IT team, a marketing team, an academic team, or any team at all, I challenge you to think about ways that you can give back to the community that supports you. If you’re a business owner, I challenge you to think of ways that you can give something back to the customers that support your service or product. And if some positive branding comes out of it? Well, that’s not so bad either.

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