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How to be a Good [Business] Samaritan

These literary agents took the time to read, understand and respond, demonstrating what it means to be a good [business] Samaritan.

How to be a Good [Business] Samaritan

Posted Friday March 17th, 2017 by in Analysis + Strategy.

Recently I've been going through the process of securing a literary agent for my book, Honest to Greatness: Capitalizing on the Millennial Mindset in Business. It's been a fascinating process, and by and large I've been pleased with the responses I've received from my proposal.

What's been more fascinating, however, is the wide variety of responses. I've gotten everything from out-of-office emails to polite "no’s" to enthusiastic "yeses" and everything in between. One agent told me he didn't believe any agent would pick up my work. Six agents have already asked for further information and meetings. I suppose as with life, books and authors come down to personal preference.

However, aside from the blessed ones who actively showed interest in my project, the best agents responded with "no...but." They politely declined my project - for whatever reason - and then they guided my journey. "Try this other agent in my office," one responded. "This isn't for me, but I'm sure you'll get picked up - keep trying!" said another. One suggested that I post some of my work in a few key publications to get agents to call on me. Another few advised me to revise a few elements of my pitch and proposal.

For ten minutes of their lives, these agents gave me guidance, direction, and most importantly, hope. For a ten minute commitment to read, understand and respond, they demonstrated what it means to be a good [business] Samaritan. The rules of being a good [business] Samaritan are simple:

  1. If you are in the business of receiving the type of information that is being directed at you, look at it. Every quick "delete" is a missed opportunity. I'm not saying open every spam email, but I am saying be open to communications coming at you.
  2. If you've taken the time to look at someone's communication and you've formulated an opinion about it, tell the person your opinion. In a world where everyone is open to constructive criticism (we live in that world, don't we??), your constructive criticism is gold! Good, bad or ugly, your opinion matters and by sharing it, you can truly help someone achieve her or his goals. The feedback I received will help me be better; the feedback I never got can never help me reach my goals.
  3. If you've taken the time to read someone's communication, and formulated an opinion about it, and shared that opinion, add to your response one piece of guidance. Just one nugget of wisdom - no matter how mundane - might just make the difference between success and failure for the person submitting information to you. Don't hold back - you have the power to help someone!

Look: We're all busy. No, we can't get to every single piece of information someone sends us. But when we break down our barriers for just long enough to help someone with a simple response, we give the best gifts of all: a bit more knowledge and a little more hope. Imagine what kind of business world we would live in if everyone were a good [business] Samaritan?

Always remember that the best way to be successful in business is to rise together. Remind me to put that in the afterword when the book gets published!


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