Steps to Networking – Step 7: Reciprocity

Written By Rick Frishman Published April 1st, 2010

STEP 7: Reciprocity

In life, we all try to get things from each other; that’s how the world works and has always worked. From ancient times, we have been a people who belonged to tribes and clannish groups. We built societies in which we lived, worked and raised families together. In these societies, each member had specific roles that he/she performed and contributed for the benefit of the group. As a part of life, we gave to and helped each other. And, we also received.

Networks operate on similar principles. When it comes to networking, an implied promise exists that “If you help me, I’ll help you.” This implied promise is the bond upon which networks and societies are built. Without the assurance of reciprocal help, many network members would not give. In networking, reciprocating, returning favors and giving back is not merely expected, it’s demanded; it’s the price you pay to be a network member.

“In a competitive environment, when we use and exploit each other and take everything we possibly can from network resources, we create a non-sustainable resource that collapses on itself because people feel used,” Bernhard Dohrmann, co-founder of IBI Global, Inc., explains. “In a cooperative network, you reward everyone who helps you appropriately for the degree and level of the help received. Sometimes, it’s a thank you or a gift and sometimes it’s stock, fees or money. There should always be a reward for a contact that made a benefit to you. If you have a benefit, you should give a reward of one kind or another including recognition. Those are sustainable networks that will not collapse on themselves, they will always supernetwork and expand during your lifetime.”

Network members are realists. They understand that most requests have more than one motive. They know that the reason given may not be all there is. They also know too well that many good intentioned individuals don’t or can’t follow through and deliver what they promised. Realists accept the fact that folks get busy, face other demands and simply forget. What they won’t abide; however, is repeated, out-and-out exploitation by those whom they have helped because networking involves giving and taking, not exploiting.

• You can’t always be the connectee; you must also be the connector.
• You can’t always be the taker; you must also give.
• To build a successful network you must be prepared to give at least two or three items for every one you receive.
• Better yet, don’t count, just give!

Give generously; don’t skimp. If you expect to receive more than you give, you’ll be bitterly disappointed. Sure, it you may get away with being a skinflint once, twice or even several times, but sooner or later people will catch on, feel abused and avoid you. And if you get anything, it will be drastically less than you gave and probably more than you deserve.

Train yourself to spot leads or opportunities for your network partners. To identify leads for partners requires you to understand their needs and how these needs can be best filled.

Think of networks as friendships. Your connection to network members is a bond built on the same basic principles as friendship. They are:

• Helping
• Sharing and
• Trusting

Both networks and friendships are intended to be long lasting and enduring, not just fleeting or hit and run contacts. A network, like a friendship, will work only if you’re asking, “What can I do for you? It will not work if you’re only asking, “What can I get from you?”

Savvy players know that networking fields are seldom level. The rich, powerful and famous are usually better connected and endowed. They have more clout than others, especially newcomers just starting out. So, most beginner networkers must try harder, be more accommodating, more assertive and seize every initiative. Instead of waiting to be asked for a favor from that powerhouse who gave you help, find resources that he/she could use and connect them with your benefactor. To be a good network partner, you must help, help, help. And when you’re tired, help some more!

Answer the following questions:

Are you a good reciprocator? _________________________________________

How do you fall short? __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

How could you improve? __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

What is stopping you?

(Excerpted from NETWORKING MAGIC: Making Connections That Will Change Your Life By Rick Frishman and Jill Lublin With Mark Steisel)

Roger Due

Investing in Your Destiny® & Coaching Program - Wealth Building Summit Dallas, Texas

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