What It Takes To "Earn The Privilege" Of Someone's Time Just forging a "connection" with someone does not at all guarantee that they are going to help further your goals or ambitions.

By Aby Sam Thomas

You're reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.


Of late, I have been finding myself approached by people with requests for meetings or calls for them to "pick my mind," or to just "catch up," even if we have never really interacted with each other prior to that particular moment.

Such invitations always leave me a bit perplexed- not only are they assuming a level of familiarity with me that almost certainly doesn't exist, they also seem to have a rather presumptuous expectation of my time and willingness to engage with whatever they have to say. That said, if I were to then ask them instead to state in an email their intentions for this rendezvous they are proposing, I find that that many -if not most- of these meeting-seekers are curiously unable to articulate their apparent conversation starters in writing, as though they don't wish to put in the work to make me understand why they are seeking my time.

I believe that this phenomenon is a result of an overestimation of the "power" of networking, wherein the focus is on the association that results from the interaction, as opposed to the value exchanged in it. Let me state here for the record that just forging a "connection" with someone does not at all guarantee that they are going to help further your goals or ambitions. But in an era where instant gratification has almost become the order of the day, immediate benefits are expected -sometimes even demanded- from even those with whom we've had a fleeting encounter, without even bothering to ask, well, why should they do anything for you- what's in it for them?

That's the shift in perspective I'd like to urge everyone to embrace as they go about asking others for anything from catchups to calls. Yes, "your network is your net worth," but that doesn't happen just like that- relationships take time to build, and there's a lot more work that needs to go into it for them to develop and grow. More often than not, we tend to be always looking for ways to extract value from those we are keen on building relationships with, when we should actually be thinking about how we can contribute value to them- or, at the very least, make it meaningful for them to want to contribute to our proposition.

In Late Night, a 2019 Hollywood movie that stars Academy Award-winning actor Emma Thompson as a television host/standup comedian, the character she plays makes it a point to end all of her performances with the line: "I hope I've earned the privilege of your time." Maybe that's the ethos we should strive for in our everyday interactions? Just a thought.

Related: Rolling With The Punches: Getting Beyond What May Feel Like A Breaking Point

Aby Sam Thomas

Entrepreneur Staff

Editor in Chief, Entrepreneur Middle East

Aby Sam Thomas is the Editor in Chief of Entrepreneur Middle East. In this role, Aby is responsible for leading the publication on its editorial front, while also working to build the brand and grow its presence across the MENA region through the development and execution of events and other programming, as well as through representation in conferences, media, etc.

Aby has been working in journalism since 2011, prior to which he was an analyst programmer with Accenture, where he worked with J. P. Morgan Chase's investment banking arm at offices in Mumbai, London, and New York. He holds a Master's Degree in Journalism from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York.  

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