Networking Principle: Scratch My Back and I'll Scratch Yours

The law of reciprocity says that after you do something for me I will feel obligated to pay you back. Say hello and I answer you back. Ask me how I feel and I respond in kind. Hold a door for me to enter and I will thank you and be more inclined to hold it for the next person. This is the most important principle of networking.

Give me a business lead and I'll start thinking about who I can refer to you. That's the fundamental principle of business networking.

You can apply this law in two ways. You could wait for someone to do you a favor. After they do, you can pay them back. That makes you even. But is your goal to be even?

I suggest that in networking your goal is to be uneven. Not only uneven but to keep increasing the balance of what is owed to you. Every time that you do a favor for someone in your network you write an IOU. They owe you a favor. This is like building your bank account.

Build your bank account of IOUs by doing favors for others in your network. The more favors you hand out, the more people will feel obligated to pay you back. Not everyone will pay you back. Don't worry about that. Instead realize that if you give out nothing till you get something you might never be out of pocket and your bank account will be zero.

Your networking bank account grows by the number of favors that others owe you. Keep depositing into this bank account because some will pay you back and some will pay back with interest.

How can you use your time wisely so you get the best return on your investment?

Imagine that you attended a networking event, walked around the room and gave everyone a dollar. You told them the dollar is a gift. You told each person that they can keep the dollar as long as they want. If fact they don't need to return it because it was a gift. If they wish to they are welcome to give the money back to you with or without interest.

That would probably freak a lot of people out. Some would return the money. Some would keep it.

But consider the obligations and goodwill that you would build with every dollar you gave away. The main limitation on you would be your supply of dollars.

Now imagine a similar scenario but instead of giving away dollars you gave away favors - leads, referrals, introductions, advice and news. Now the limitation on investment is removed. You can give an almost unlimited number of favors. The only limitation is in using your time wisely.

Instead of giving out dollars, give more favors and watch your networking bank account and business grow.

Business networking works on the principle that if you scratch my back I'll scratch yours. Get out there and scratch more backs.

© George Torok is the author of "Your Guide to Networking Success". Get your free copy of "50 Power Marketing Ideas" at Discover more networking tips at To arrange for George Torok to speak to your conference or business team call 905-335-1997