Six months ago I joined LinkedIn for the first time, browsed around a little bit, sent a few connection requests, and then forgot about it. Life had become busy and I was tight on money, so I picked up any extra shifts the nursing home would throw my way. On my breaks in between cleaning resident rooms, instead of eating in the busy lunch room with the other staff members, I would hide myself away in the empty library and write. It was during one of these stolen sessions that I remembered the app I had downloaded onto my phone, and wondered who exactly was using it. I searched for people I admired, and people I one day hoped to work with like Jason, the Editor-In-Chief of Entrepreneur Magazine.  A few people accepted my connection request and even fewer responded with an actual message. Jason was one of the few that replied personally with a message, and even agreed to a 15-minute interview that focused on the book I was writing. Within the next few weeks we had a conversation about personal branding, the power of social media, online dating and how he met his wife on OkCupid. I was surprised at how human he was, and how he answered my questions in a way an old friend might, by being honest and relatable. I’ve since become an even bigger fan of his work. I look forward to his newsletter and his podcast, Pessimists Archive about why we fear the past. Two days ago I sent a shamefully weak pitch to his inbox, but instead of getting a normal form rejection, or worse, pure silence, I received some serious constructive feedback about what I was doing wrong. Without his straightforward response, it may have taken me years to realize I needed to show instead of just tell. By being kind, he had  become part of the solution to the sickness that had plagued my writing career.

So, what did Jason teach me about the power of kindness?

It Fosters Loyalty and Builds Your Tribe                                                                                                          I had long been an reader of Entrepreneur Magazine both on and offline, but my loyalty to the company and to Jason grew beyond measure the moment I was able to identify with him as a human being. Putting a real person behind the work made it relatable, and it made me want to celebrate his successes as my own. If you’re looking to grow your brand, business or community, start by looking directly in front of you. How can you be more kind to your network? How can you show them the human behind the computer screen? It Widens Your Audience                                                                                                                            People that feel closer to you actually want to comment, like, and share your content. The main focus of networking should be to learn as much about the individual as you can, and truly try to make a deeper connection without expecting anything in return. Sometimes, if you’re lucky enough you will have helped and built relationships with so many people, that your audience will organically grow to include their audience as well. If it happens be grateful, and enjoy the journey, connecting with one person at a time. It Allows You To Be Part Of Someone’s Journey                                                                                       This is the best thing Jason taught me. Everyone has a story, and everyone needs help sooner or later. You never really know what someone else is going through in their personal lives, they may have just lost a loved one, or suffered financially. Sometimes all it takes is a little advice, encouragement, or constructive criticism, and you will have changed someone’s life for the better. You could have just helped the next Monet, Speilberg, or Atwood. Finally, if you’re truly kind, you’re memorable. On both sides of the spectrum we all remember the person who made us feel bad, and we smile when we remember the person who made us feel good. If you truly want to leave behind a legacy, forget what it is you do, and start focusing on how you make people feel. If you can master this, success will surely follow. Jason has definitely lived up to the title of his novel, Mr. Nice Guy, written with his wife Jennifer Miller. If you are second guessing making that connection, or sending that message, go for it, you never know what might happen.