What is the Value of Being Invited?

Really. Take a moment and think about that. 

Let me ask it differently, “What do you gain by receiving an invitation to participate that you don’t get when you self-identify as a candidate for that opportunity?”

If it helps, think about the context of a job opening. You see a posting for a camp director position, and it catches your attention. You don’t have time to think hard about it now, so you set it aside to consider later.

Scenario one:

Before you can get back to the posting and spend some time researching and considering whether it is a good fit for you, you get a call from a board member for the hiring organization. You don’t know this person, but they introduce themself and tell you that they obtained your name from a mutual friend. The friend had shared that you were a strong leader at your current organization and that they were incredibly impressed with how you handled a challenging staffing situation in the past few months. The caller then invites you to find a time to connect further to get to know one another and then consider the open position.

Scenario two:

A couple of days later, you see that job listing that you set to the side. You spend a few minutes reading it. The things that jump out to you are the items on the job description you are not skilled at. Imposter syndrome quickly sets in, and you set the listing aside again. Maybe you’ll consider it again later.

How you Make People Feel Drives How they Respond

I don’t know about you, but when I look at my life and consider all of the cool things I’ve gotten to do, I can easily see that I wouldn’t have done even half of them if I hadn’t been invited. 

Invitations help us to feel:

  • Qualified
  • Thought of
  • Seen 
  • More Confident
  • Needed
  • Welcomed
  • And so much more

When I feel these things, I want to be involved in whatever it is I’ve been invited to! When we take the time to ask people, their engagement with us is more valued and valuable from the start.

The Art of Inviting

Like most good things, inviting gets easier with practice. What we learn is that a suitable invitation isn’t just asking the question, “Will you do this thing?” A powerful invitation impacts a person’s response and is rooted in a relationship. 

There are three main components of a good invitation:

  1. I see you. Nobody wants to be a seat filler. Unless you ask me to fill a seat by Morgan Freeman at some big awards show, I don’t want that job. What we want is to be appreciated for our history, experience, skills, and perspective. 
  2. I have a problem. Unless there is a problem, there isn’t a solution. If there isn’t a problem, you are asking me to be a seat filler. I don’t want to be a seat filler. See #1. Name the problem. For example, ‘We have several nursing homes in our community where the residents are homebound. They aren’t able to get out and experience the joy of the holiday season. The problem is that we don’t have anyone to organize this year’s Cookie and Carols Night.”
  3. I need you. It doesn’t just mean saying, “Will you do this thing?” It means naming the parameters and expectations.  

Right Under Your Nose

That’s the answer to the question, “where are these people we are supposed to invite?” They are in our networks and neighborhoods. They are one phone call away.

When you get stuck on who to invite to fill a position, start with who you know, then go one layer further. 

  1. Look through your address book, social media accounts, and email lists – who do you know?
  2. Call leaders/experts in the right area – ask for recommendations.
  3. Ask online. Did you know that people value recommendations gained from a social network ‘friend’ over what they can find on Google? In other words, if someone needs a plumber, they are more likely to ask for a recommendation on Facebook than to just Google “local plumbers.”

Next time you need to find the right people for the right project, take some time to be intentional about inviting. When you do this, you’ll get a better fit and better results than waiting for people to self-identify.

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