Learning to Use the Law of Reciprocity

Photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici

Photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici

Put simply, the law of reciprocity in networking means that by providing benefits (including referrals) to others, you will be creating strong networking relationships that will eventually bring benefits (especially referrals) to you, often in a very roundabout way rather than directly from the person you benefit.  This makes the law of reciprocity an enormously powerful tool for growing your own business’s size and profitability.  Below you will find four very important things to remember as you learn to use the law of reciprocity in your networking efforts.

Tip No. 1–Giving means helping others achieve success. What is your plan to contribute to others? How much time and energy can you spare for this? Do you actively seek out opportunities to help people? You could volunteer to help out with something that’s important to someone in your network, offer advice or support in time of need, or even work hard to connect someone to a valuable contact of yours.

Tip No. 2–The person who helps you will not necessarily be the person you helped. Zig Ziglar says, “If you help enough people get what they want, you will get what you want.” In other words, what goes around comes around. If you focus intently on helping others, you will achieve success in the end.

Tip No. 3–The law of reciprocity can be measured. It is a myth that networking cannot be measured and, in my latest book, Networking Like a Pro, my co-authors and I use the Networking Scorecard Worksheet, part of the Certified Networker Program offered through the Referral Institute, to measure networking. If you apply the law of reciprocity, you will see your weekly total networking score gradually rise.

Tip No. 4–Success takes getting involved.  You have to do more than simply be present to be a successful networker. If you join a chamber of commerce, become an ambassador. If you join a BNI chapter, get involved in the leadership team. If you join a civic organization, get on a committee. The law of reciprocity requires giving to the group; it will pay you back many times over.

A master networker understands that, although networking is not the end but simply the means to growing a business, service to your network of contacts must always be uppermost in your networking activities. Once you have established a solid reputation as someone who cares about the success of others, the law of reciprocity will reward you with an abundance of high quality referrals.

Body Slam!

Business conferences, as a rule, aren’t extraordinarily exciting. They don’t really take your breath away.  The one I attended in Hot Springs, Virginia, in 2006 was no exception.  Mind you, it was interesting – but not much really exciting happened except for one particular evening.   A friend of mine witnessed someone desperately choking at a restaurant.  She calmly and professionally, walked up to the person and swiftly did the Heimlich Maneuver to dislodge the food.  I heard all about the experience from several witnesses who watched in awe, as our mutual friend saved the day.

ChokingBlog

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I vividly remember stopping to think about what I would do if I were alone, had something stuck in my throat and there was no one around to do the Heimlich on me.  At the time, I didn’t know anything about the chair Heimlich which would have made my experience and this story much less dramatic.  But I didn’t know it at the time, and so I sat with my thoughts considering what I might do.

I finally came to the conclusion that I would simply jump as high into the air as I could and slam my body onto the floor to force the air (and the food) out!  There, great.  Another problem solved.  Now, next thing to contemplate.  Seriously, that was about as much time as I thought about the “possible dilemma” which I would probably never face.

Fast forward exactly one month later to May 8th 2006.  I was sitting in my office working from home one afternoon.   It was well after lunch time and I was getting hungry.  I decided to heat up some left-overs from last night’s dinner.  I checked with my son who was way over on the other side of the house to see if he was hungry.  He said, “No,” so I proceeded to microwave the piece of tri-tip beef and some vegetables.

When it was good and hot, I took it into my office and sat at my computer working on whatever project I was working on while I absentmindedly ate my lunch.  The steak was really good, but it had some gristle that made parts of the meal a little difficult to chew.  I took a pretty big bite of meat, chewed it up, and swallowed.  What I didn’t realize, however, was that a tough piece of gristle was attached to the other half of the piece in my mouth I had not yet chewed.  So, when I swallowed the one piece, it pulled the other piece down in on top of the first.  As I’m sure you guessed by now, the steak was well and truly lodged deeply in my throat.

Yikes!  “What do I do,” I thought?  I reached for the phone to dial 911, however, I quickly discovered that when you have something completely stuck in your throat – you CANNOT make a sound.  Nothing, nada, zip, zilch.  You are completely silent!!!  “But wait,” I thought to myself, “I have this all figured out – I thought about this a month ago.  I’ll simply jump as high as I possibly can and slam my body on the floor.  Yea, that’s the ticket – I’ll do that – NOW!”

With that, I stood up, took a big step, launched myself into the air and slammed onto the floor.  Unfortunately, other than a couple of badly bruised ribs, absolutely nothing happened.  At this point, I was getting pretty desperate and feeling a little light-headed, so I quickly stood up, took two or three really big steps and LAUNCHED myself as high as I could into the air.  It was so high it would have made any professional wrestler proud.  It was in fact, a world-class Wrestlemania body slam – right on the floor of my office.

With that, the stuck piece of steak popped out of my throat, but it remained in my mouth.  I then opened my mouth and frantically gasped for a big deep breath.  Luckily, I was able to get a big gulp of air.  Unluckily, the steak was still connected to the rest of the bite by the stringy piece of gristle – it immediately got sucked right back into my windpipe!!! The thought flashed through my mind that this might just have been my very last breath.

I thought I was desperate before – now, however, I was incredibly desperate.  I wasn’t thinking very clearly, and I thought I would run upstairs to get help from my son.  Unfortunately, I managed to get only part of the way there before I could feel myself starting to get light headed and on the verge of passing out.  I saw the stairs and called an audible.  Instead of slamming into the flat surface of the floor, I would slam my body into the stairs while aiming my solar plexus for one of the stair steps.  I took a running start for the stairs and did what had to look like a Three-Stooges-like physical stunt, launching myself into a stair step that I was aiming for.  This time, the piece of steak AND its evil twin both ejected from my mouth in a manner that was reminiscent of the Exorcist.

I sat down on the stair that saved my life and coughed, coughed, and coughed – but more importantly, took long deep breaths of air.  My throat hurt, my head hurt, and I can’t tell you how badly my ribs hurt.  I sat there for no more than a minute when the phone rang.  To this day, I do not know what possessed me to stand up and answer the phone – but I did.   I answered it with the most grizzled, gravely, frog-like voice you could possibly imagine.  “H-e-e-ello,” I rasped.  It was my mother.  She said, “Hi honey, is everything ok?”

Now I have no idea why my mother called.  We spoke often but not every day.  She had no reason whatsoever to call me that afternoon.  But she did call me.  Furthermore, she sounded worried.  She said, “I just had this bad feeling and I had to call you to make sure you were ok.”  “I’m f-i-i-i-ine” I rasped out.   “You don’t sound fine,” she said.  “No, I’m good – just something stuck in my throat is all.  I’m good now.”  I never told my mother what happened that afternoon. 

But I sometimes think back to several moments surrounding this whole episode.  Why did that story about my friend doing the Heimlich give me pause?  What in the world possessed me to think about what I’d do if no one were around and I had something stuck in my throat.  And, how was it that my mother called moments after the episode and wanted to know if I was ok?

All of these are mysteries to my linear thinking, left-brained self.  But I think of them nonetheless. Needless to say, I have a new appreciation for each of the breaths I have left and that’s why I felt compelled to share this story with you today. 

Have you had an experience that has caused you to personally never take another breath for granted?  If so, I’d really like to hear it so, if you don’t mind sharing it, please tell us your story in the comment forum below–thanks!

Building Social Capital Is the Groundwork for Future Payoff

In a video blog I posted recently, I talk about the Law of Reciprocity which is one aspect of social capital theory.  In today’s video, I specifically address what social capital is and why investing in social capital is one of the best investments you can make in order to secure future success for yourself and others with whom you network.

My friend Alex, whom I mention in this video, is a master at building social capital and there isn’t a person who knows him who wouldn’t help him in an instant in any way they could if  he asked them to.  Alex has an expansive support system comprised of a diverse array of people who are all willing and eager to help him succeed and it’s all because he dedicates himself 100% to investing in the relationships he builds with those around him.  If you could use a support system like Alex has (which I already know you could because we ALL could), then start creating ways to build social capital with those in your network at every opportunity.

Perhaps you’ve already got a story about social capital that’s similar to the one I share in this video about Alex, or a story about how you’ve built great social capital with someone who is now just itching to help you in any way they can.  If so, please go to www.SubmitYourNetworkingStory.com and share your story for consideration of inclusion in the upcoming networking book I’m writing with Jack Canfield, and Gautam Ganglani.  Also, I’d love for you to briefly summarize your story in the comment forum below as well.  Thanks in advance for your participation!

The Law of Reciprocity Works in Mysterious Ways


The Law of Reciprocity is a part of social capital theory and, in simple terms, it basically states that what you give/put out to the world will come back around to you in equal measure (i.e., ‘what goes around comes around’) and if you help others, you’ll receive help in return.

The interesting thing is that the Law of Reciprocity is not always immediate and the way in which it’s actually working is not always clear cut or easy to see.  You may help a person in their time of need and find that your good will toward them comes back to you in the form of good will or help repaid to you from someone completely different.  That’s the beauty of it though . . . when you have pure intentions toward others and act positively on those intentions, life (via the Law of Reciprocity) will reward you in surprising ways (And good surprises are much more fascinating and enjoyable than being able to predict exactly how the good you do will come back to you, right?).

In this video, in addition to discussing my general view on the Givers Gain® and the Law of Reciprocity, I share my initial reaction in regard to recently finding out how my son helped a friend in a time of dire need and I talk about how I believe the Law of Reciprocity will no doubt come into play for him as a result.

Do you have a story about how the Law of Reciprocity has affected you?  If so, please go to www.SubmitYourNetworkingStory.com and share your story for consideration of inclusion in the upcoming networking book I’m writing with Jack Canfield, and Gautam Ganglani.  Also, I’d love for you to briefly summarize your story in the comment forum below as well.  Thanks in advance for your participation!

Did Woody Allen Get it Right?

Woody Allen is often quoted as saying that “80% of success is showing up.”  It’s a great phrase and there certainly is some truth to it (you may be able to guess what’s coming next . . .); however, is it completely accurate?  I don’t believe so. Woody Allen1

I believe showing up is, indeed, the first step toward success yet there’s a lot more which must be done after simply showing up in order to achieve any degree of significant success.  I bring this up because a year ago I had a conversation with a man about his participation in a networking group and he used this quote from Allen to argue that he should be experiencing significantly more success from his networking efforts than he currently was, simply due to his dedication to showing up and maintaining perfect attendance at networking functions.  I asked if he was doing some specific things which I feel are very important in order to succeed in a networking group and he said “no.”

I told him that I firmly believe taking action (beyond simply showing up) is key in order to achieve real results and, to put it mildly, that did not make him happy; he was beside himself with agitation in response to my suggestion.  He felt that just being there regularly at meetings and functions should yield the results he wanted from his network.  Well, based on the results he was getting, he was absolutely mistaken.

Years ago, I was filmed by Rhonda Byrne for the film – The Secret (about the law of attraction).  If you saw The Secret and don’t recall seeing me in it, that’s because the segment of film I was featured in ultimately ended up being cut during the editing process.  However, what I talked about in that never-aired segment was that one of the things I love most about the law of attraction is that it’s a great starting point for success (in my opinion).  I’d like to take a second though to clearly point out that the word “action” is part of the word “attraction.”  I believe we must first attract what we want in life but that’s not where things end . . . we must then do our part taking the appropriate action in order to achieve what we desire.  Unlike a portion of the film which talks about having a personal genie who will do your bidding upon your command, I believe WE are our own “genie” and that we must take action to attract and achieve what it is that we want.  Attraction without action is basically wishful thinking.  Wishful thinking alone does not allow you to achieve success.

Going back to Allen’s assertion that “80% of success is showing up”–showing up is indeed taking action and this is certainly the first step toward success, which is why I think what Allen says has some truth to it.  However, just showing up is in no way enough.  I believe you actually have to do something when you show up in order to really obtain success, no matter what it is your aiming for in life (what a notion).

What you have to do depends on what you are trying to accomplish.  For the man I was talking to last year, he wanted more results from his network.  Some of the actions I told him he needed to take were to:

  1. Create an introduction that changed every time and focused on a small element of his business.  I told him it was important to train a sales team, not try to make a sale at each meeting.
  2. Schedule one-to-one meetings with a different person from the group each week to build deeper connections and learn more about his fellow networkers (as well as them learning more about him).
  3. Take a leadership role of some kind within the group.  This would help him stand out among the crowd.
  4. Bring referrals (legitimate ones) for other members.  If you want to get business, you have to be willing to give business.
  5. Immerse in referral education.  Read books, blogs (I suggested this blog as a start), articles–anything to help him learn how to engage in the networking process more effectively.

There is so much more he could have done but the list above is a good start for any networking action plan.  I am pleased to say that, to his credit, he actually took my advice (especially the bit about immersing himself in referral education).  Not long ago, I spoke with the man again and he shared with me that his referrals have gone up dramatically over the last year.  Interestingly enough, we ended that last conversation with him stating, “Woody Allen only got it partially right . . . 80% of success BEGINS with showing up.”  Needless to say, I agreed.

I’d love to get your feedback on what I’ve talked about in this post.  What are your ideas about the law of attraction in relation to success?  Are there specific action steps you’ve taken which have made a dramatic difference for you on your path to success in one or more of your networking, career, or life endeavors?  Please leave your thoughts in the comment forum below–I’d love to hear from you!

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