Givers, Takers and Fakers

by · April 1, 201322 comments

The social marketing space is an awesome collection of people. I’ve had the good fortune to get to know many of them in the last few years. Generosity of time and spirit is a common thread. Unfortunately, it’s not always the case. I spent three years or so helping other people build their businesses, lending time, travel, ideas, promotions, etc. When I needed help building my business, the true colors showed. Genuine friends emerged. The others were outed, even if they didn’t know it.

Then there were a few who didn’t jump to volunteer and help me with my business that I thought would if I asked. Despite my tendency to not explicitly ask for help and allow the good people to just know I need it, I asked. Most helped. Some did not. Mind you, I never asked for anything big. Introduce me to a prospect. Tell your audience about what I’m doing in a relevant way. Tell folks about my book, etc.

The lessons learned in dealing with this world of wonderful people is that not everyone is what they appear to be. This doesn’t mean they are bad, only that they naturally gravitate to one type of person or another. There are givers and there are takers. Givers tend to genuinely share and help. They don’t expect the same in return, but if you give it, they’re friends for life. The takers are in one of two subsets: The takers and the fakers.

The takers are outright selfish and easily identified. They don’t fit in the social marketing industry because they don’t first have the genuine approach to sharing and community most of us do. They don’t get the rule of reciprocation.

The fakers are the worst of the two, however. They tell you for years, “You let me know if you ever need my help. I’m there for you.” When you need them, they disappear. Or worse, tell you they won’t help and excuse it as if there’s a reason that makes it okay.

I’ve spent the better part of a couple years trying to figure out the fakers. The ones I came across surprised me. I thought they were genuine. I thought that my dozens of good deeds might be worth one in trade. They appeared to be givers. They talked a good talk. But when the money was on the table, they could only walk the walk if they got a piece of it. They’ll help you, but only if it also helps them.

Fakers aren’t easy to spot. I’m not sure if I have advice for any of you who wish to find them. But now you know they’re there. Maybe that will help keep your antennae up and alert.

When I finally put my foot down and started focusing on building my business along with the genuine people who wanted to help me, life got easier. Yes, I could have been more successful had I appeared at this event or done that webinar or promoted that person’s thing. But I rested easy knowing that the people I helped were at least willing to help me, even if I never asked. The stress avoided was worth whatever price I paid.

The business world is funny. You learn so much, even when you’re not expecting to. Maybe I’m not the right person to be doling out entrepreneurial advice — many have made much more money and built much larger or successful companies than I. But I can’t help but tell you to go to bat with the right teammates. Friend the right people. Surround yourself with those who can help you succeed.

But know that success isn’t about revenues or margins or profits. It’s about doing what you do and being proud of the effort, content with your soul and happy with the world you’ve built.

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About Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).

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Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • matt_pierson

    This weekend the New York Times Magazine had an article on a similar subject http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/31/magazine/is-giving-the-secret-to-getting-ahead.html?ref=magazine&_r=1& THough there it was givers, takers, and matchers.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Hmmm. Didn’t see that, Matt. Thanks for the point.

      • http://www.greenmatterthoughts.com KevinMGreen

        I was going to share that exact same link. The article and profile aligns perfectly with your POV. Givers tend to be more successful and find greater happiness in their career. However, for every giver, there are dozens of takers and countless fakers. The “Me First” attitude is alive and well.

  • http://www.internationalcreativeservices.com.au/ Anne Miles

    Very true @Jason! Good observation. I agree and feel this is symptomatic of our personal lives too. Having moved back to my home town I’m finding the same thing. While we were interstate there were lots of promises to ‘be there’ for us if we moved back – the truth is some just weren’t there despite promises and also there are others that have stepped up even more than I imagined. I’m grateful forever for the real friends! I’m so lucky to have been able to really test them and see who swam. :)

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      It’s all about true colors. And knowing that the untrue aren’t bad, they’re just full of promises they won’t keep.

      • http://www.internationalcreativeservices.com.au/ Anne Miles

        The behaviour is ‘bad’ not the people. :)

  • http://soloprpro.com KellyeCrane

    I think many would be surprised to hear that even influencers like Jason Falls have these experiences with “fakers.” When you’re on the receiving end of a faker’s blowoff, it’s easy to feel like the person doesn’t view you as important enough, when in fact it’s usually (always?) just a character defect on their part.

    I’ve found that the best way to spot a faker is at an in-person event/conference.The fakeness of their “I can’t wait to grab a beer with you!” communications become apparent when they blatantly ignore you face-to-face. As I noted above, rest assured you’re not the only one having this experience with this person! It’s a small world, and fakers get theirs in the end. Thanks, Jason – you’re one of the good ones!

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Thank you, Dear. The in-person is certainly a big test.

  • http://twitter.com/kyleplacy Kyle Lacy

    Amen.

  • Easter Bunny

    You can’t be serious,or this naive. Ok, this is an April fools’ joke.

  • OBVAVirtualAssistant

    Before you speak, listen. Before you write, think. Before you spend, earn. Before you invest, investigate. Before you criticize, wait. Before you pray, forgive. Before you quit, try. Before you retire, save. Before you die, give. -William A. Ward

  • http://www.marketingtechblog.com Douglas Karr

    I’ve met and continue to meet many takers. Once.

  • http://www.jasonkonopinski.com/ Jason Konopinski

    Hear, hear.

  • http://twitter.com/freighter Marty Thompson

    Jason, thanks for sharing something that for many folks is hard to reconcile, let alone discuss in public. I don’t know if it is unique to the space we all work in, where egos reign large, but there does tend to be a group who look at just being helpful as the playground for chumps. Mathbabe refers to them as “strategic givers.” What an empty, dim world view that must endure, always seeking to gain a little at every chance.

    http://mathbabe.org/2013/04/01/giving-isnt-the-secret/

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  • dgmattichakjr

    In my experience helping people on the web is always better than weighing up what will be in it for me in the long run. For everyone that disappoints you when you put the call out for some help there is sure to be one that surprises you and chips in. Of course the fakers won’t get a second look but they aren’t worth being disappointed over either.

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  • chatmeter

    Too bad fakers aren’t easier to spot. Seems like everyone has a least one of them in their lives. Our CEO ran into that when he started his business (www.chatmeter.com), and it is really frustrating. The hard part is accepting that they screwed you over and just moving on. Fortunately, our givers were able to more than make up for the takers/fakers.

  • zcochran88

    I think most people are all three. I strive to be a giver, but sometimes I’m inconsiderate and I take. Or I fail to help when the need is there (fake). When I ran for student body president in college, I had very few “genuine friends” who helped me with my campaign. Yet several of those same friends just helped me move apartments. Why didn’t they help me the first time but didn’t the second time? Because everyone takes some, fakes some and gives some, since they are human.

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