ON NETWORKING || Strategically Building and Using Your Goodwill

According to the latest released figures for the quarter ending June 30, 2019, the goodwill and intangible assets of the Coca-Cola brand is worth $26.915 Billion, a 59.62 percent increase year over year.

The total assets reported for the same quarter was $89.996 Billion, meaning that goodwill and intangible assets alone makes up close to 30 percent of the company’s asset value.

The same goes for your business and your personal network, and goodwill is something that is built and sustained over the course of your entire career.


Here are a few actions and activities that build goodwill.

  • Spotting opportunities and connecting different parties to a deal to help THEM benefit (note: not you, but someone else)

  • Sending value-add newsletters to your clients

  • Being reliable - ie. are you delivering budgets on time and on budget?

  • Making good on your promises and hitting client objectives

  • Grabbing coffee for your colleagues

  • Sending an email to someone having a bad day

In essence, building goodwill is being attentive and caring more than you need to be, and doing more than you were paid to do; it is the act of going above and beyond.


Here are a few things that deplete your build up goodwill. While you can call in favours every once in a while, you need to keep a close watch on the meter.

  • Rushing last minute decisions that place the entire team in high-stress mode when the rush situation could have been avoided with better planning

  • Dropping the ball on a deadline and leaving your team to ‘deal with it’

  • Blaming your colleagues for a mistake that you also contributed to

  • Bossing people around in conversations

Most of the above actions and activities depict a person who is inconsiderate and self-centered, but even the best of us fall into these traps when we are having a bad day. My advice? Limit the amount of human interaction required when you are having a stressful day. As my grandfather told my mom, “the less you say, the less likely you are to make a mistake".


If you have developed a great rapport and built up goodwill with your team, here is an example of how you can strategically leverage your goodwill.

In the case where you are asking for an introduction to a potential client you have been secretly wishing for, here’s where the goodwill comes in - if the person you are asking for an introduction from does not know you that well or they are not familiar with the fantastic work that you do, they will hesitate. This is why it’s important to always, always, always, showcase the great work you do on every conduit possible. This does not mean bragging, it means letting people know if you complete a project and it generated great results for a client; it means sharing a client testimonial that reinforces your top-notch work ethic.

The deciding factor here is whether the person trusts that introducing you to their contact will make them look good. They have to believe and trust that the introduction builds on their goodwill with their contact as well. Though they may not be consciously thinking of “what’s in it for me?” when they decide whether or not to make an introduction, I will bet that it is always a deciding factor.

Even for something as simple as asking a co-worker to take a shift for you is using up your goodwill. If they know you have to leave early because of a commitment like an anniversary with your wife or to pick up the kids from school, the depletion of goodwill is not as high, but if you are switching shifts so you can go catch a sports game or go for a scenic hike they are likely to not be so amused. Once you have depleted all your goodwill with someone, it is difficult to build it back up again and to get them to change their mind about who you are and what you stand for.

Do they know you as someone who is reliable, trustworthy, punctual? Imagine if you skip out on a few meetings, push deadlines for weeks on end, and show up late to an important meeting. How will they describe you now after these experiences. In psychology, there is a term called ‘recency bias’, where people tend to recall the closest events to assess a situation or a person; meaning, if you have been having a bad streak of showing up late to meetings, the person will now view you as a person who will always show up late, even if you have been punctual for the past 2 years.

So, before you use your goodwill, keep in mind what you can do for them in return, even if it’s something nice like bringing them back some snacks or treats if you go away on vacation. Any and all efforts to appreciate someone else’s efforts to help you out adds to your ongoing goodwill report card.


With the current and future wave of AI technology, the majority of hard skills will not be the deciding factor in whether you get a job or are able to keep a job. What will matter are the soft skills you have and the goodwill you have built up, because for decisions that do not have a finite data set (ie. which AI can take care of effortlessly) and rely on creative, open-ended discussion and solutions, people will really seriously start weighing qualities like “supportive, resourceful, creative, helpful” as key attributes they are looking for when they are hiring.

So, if you have been doing all of the above then good for you, for those who are acting like big bullies in the workplace or in personal relationships, it’s time for a fundamental change in how you function and interact with the world around you.