Serving Others, Not Networking, Makes You a Leader

  • Published: Wednesday, July 8, 2020

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- The key to finding success in life or a career is not who you know, but how you serve, according to David Burton, a county engagement specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

“Most people say they want to make a difference and be successful, but we get bogged down by chasing inauthentic relationships,” said Burton.

Burton says approaching your life and career by putting other people first and building relationships with no strings attached is much better than networking.

“Serving must become the basis for all of our daily decision-making. Serving attracts us to others and is attractive to others. When people sense you genuinely care, it can be more powerful than any networking event or social media platform,” said Burton.

It is common to hear speakers and others pushing the idea of networking, or cultivating relationships that can help us advance or move to a higher position. 

Burton says there are serious problems with this single path to success. 

For starters, networking kills authentic relationships.

“I hate the idea of trying to meet people for the sole purpose of personal gain,” said Burton. “Rather serving is not only the path to success, but it is a success.”

Burton sees three primary advantages in taking the approach of serving.

For starters, serving creates purpose. 

“There is no dream job, but serving can create purpose and contentment that can make the most difficult job feel like a dream,” said Burton.

Secondly, serving creates value. 

“We live in a world where you can be famous for being famous. But giving value lasts. Serving creates value for you and others,” said Burton.

Third, serving can change the world. 

We all want to leave a mark. The best way to do this is to start small. Remind yourself that it is one person at a time,” said Burton. “Just change one. Then do it again. Serving changes the world because it changes others.”

Community development specialists with MU Extension help people create communities of the future by tapping into local strengths and university resources. The Community Development Program works collaboratively with communities to foster economic development, leadership development, community decision making, community emergency preparedness and inclusive communities.

For more information, contact any of these MU Extension community development specialists working in southwest Missouri:  Pam Duitsman in Christian County, (417) 581-3558; David Burton in Greene County, (417) 881-8909 or Maria E. Rodriguez-Alcalá in Jasper County at (417) 358-2158

Writer: David Burton

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David Burton

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