The Law of Reciprocity and Network Meetings

I often talk about the Law of Reciprocity as an example of how you can build rapport with a prospect or customer.
Reciprocity works because most of us don’t like to feel obligated to someone else.   When someone gives us a gift, we want to reciprocate.  So when you give a gift to a prospect or customer, they will generally want to reciprocate by at least giving you their attention. And their attention is the first thing you need before you can build rapport that can eventually lead to a sale.

So what does this have to do with network group meetings?

A couple weeks ago, I spoke at a network group meeting.  One of the things I noticed is that the Law of Reciprocity is one of the most challenging aspects in a networking environment.  Why?  Probably because we learn quickly that participation in a networking group creates a sense of obligation to do business with, and to refer business to, fellow members. But it’s just another method of conducting business, so let’s do it the right way.

Here are some suggestions on being proactive when at a networking event.  I have found that if you ask the questions you want someone to ask you, you will be building trust and relationships.

So if you want someone to ask you a specific question, you ask it first.

Here are some examples of questions you could massage to fit your business and use.

  1. Who is your target market?

  2. What is your biggest challenge?

  3. How do you generate most of your business?

  4. What sets you apart from your competition?

  5. How can I know if someone I’m talking to would be a great prospect for you?

This last question I feel is the best one to ask, as it is telling them that you are interested in referring business to them.

By doing this, they are likely to ask you the same question.
The next time you are at a networking event, use these questions and see what happens.

And if you have other questions that have worked well for you (as I’m sure you do), tell us about them in the Comment section below.

By the way, since we are talking about gifts, I have a standing gift for you…

If your business is B2B, you can take my 10 Marketing Mistakes book, add your personal message and logo to it (following some guidelines) and give it away as a gift to companies you do business with.  To see 3 ways you can use it to start building reciprocity, go to this link:   Call my office if you have any questions.

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18 Responses to “The Law of Reciprocity and Network Meetings”

  1. I just like to add that networking is all about building relationships. Just like learning, networking is all about repetition. The group has to get to know you and trust you, before they refer business to you.


  2. Ken Varga says:

    “Agreed, Katalin. Networking is about building relationships and trust. And remember, building relationships starts with communication. Everything starts with communication, on all the different levels (appearance, voice, questions, what you say, etc.). The questions I gave are one effective way I’ve found to start the process of building relationship and trust. How are you currently beginning the process of building relationship and trust with your group?”


  3. Deb Kit says:

    Thank you for all your tips. Can you tell me how you effectively network with new people you meet that have the exact business as other people you have met? Example: I know 2 people who do send out cards, and I meet another person who does the same.


    Ken Varga Reply:

    @Deb Kit,
    Deb, try this. In your example with Send Out Cards, share ideas with them about what works for you. When you share first, they’ll probably share their ideas with you too. As you all share ideas with one another, you’ll all get better.


  4. Thanks for your inputs. Its of great help.I have a question ? How to maintain the network once done with …….What are the tools?


    Ken Varga Reply:

    @Sushant Mysorekar,
    Sushant, Enter the contact information from the business cards you gathered into a database. Make sure to enter any notes you made on the back of the card or that you gathered in some other way. Entering this information can get unwieldy if you gathered many cards. If that’s the case, you can use a business card scanner to scan in the information. Some scanners can scan both sides of a card at once. Then follow the suggestions from some of my other blog articles on building relationships with your contacts. Set up a regular schedule to contact people on your list. In your contact with them, always make sure you are sincerely contacting them to find out how you can help them and make a difference for them. Make that your focus and the Law of Reciprocity will take hold. You can let them know that you may not be able to help them yourself with the things they need, but the more you understand about them and their business the better you’ll be able to refer them as you meet other people. So to answer your question, the main tools are: (1) a good database management system and, (2) your desire to be a resource for the network of people you are building.


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