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Rory notes that every single goal you set for yourself or your business involves a personal connection with another human being.
"If you're looking for an opportunity, you're really looking for a person."
That investment you want? What you really need is an investor.
That sale you're after? What you really want is a customer..
The one thing to do to make your business successful is to focus on relationships
Networking is a nightmare - because you get a room full of people focussed on selling there stuff and nobody there to buy!
On the other hand, you don't hate spending time with friends or socializing because you know that the other people don't have a selfish reason to talk to you. You want to spend time listening to them, because you know they'll listen to you afterwards. They know you, like you and trust you!
So, what if you could make all your business relationships--and, by association, your business goals--personal?
Social interactions are all about giving and receiving
When others really listen to you and treat you with respect, you feel obliged to treat them in the same way. It's a basic cultural rule that has been drilled into us from an early age.
We call that "a spirit of generosity"
There is a basic law of reciprocity, and it's a concept referenced in every introductory psychology course and every well-known marketing book. It's also No. 1 of the Six Principles of Influence in psychologist Dr. Robert Cialdini's classic book, Influence.
"I am obligated to give back to you the form of behavior that you first give to me," explains Cialdini. He continues:
The implications for a leader seem to be clear. If you wish to be more influential...the first question you should ask is not "who can help me?" The first question you should ask is "whose business circumstances and outcomes can I advance?" Because by virtue of reciprocity, those people will then want to advance your outcomes.
Using reciprocity to build real relationships
Sure, it sounds easy. But how exactly do we apply this idea to networking and building business relationships without running ourselves dry?
Here are a few suggestions of ways to create value and reciprocity without breaking the bank:
Solve a problem: Offer up a creative brainstorming session or anecdotal advice to someone's problem. Even just asking "how can I help?" works.
Offer access to your resources: Do you have something you could easily lend out that would help this person? Either your tools or your audience?
Facilitate a connection: Do you know someone they want to know, and could you make an intro?
Ask insightful questions: Can you show that you're invested in them and their work? Do you know an issue they're struggling with, and can you ask insightful questions to get them engaged in the conversation?
Give a small gift: What pleasant surprise can you offer? A discount code for your service? An invite to an exclusive event?
Remember, reciprocity is a two-way street
Reciprocity like this only works if you're willing to act the same way. Understand when you "owe" someone else for their favor, and acknowledge that you'll return their good gesture. The returns on the value you give to people won't happen overnight. After all, you're building a network of allies and acquaintances who want to help you, and this naturally takes time to manifest.
However, the more value you put out into the world, the more reciprocated responses you'll get.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.