Business Networking – Is ‘Givers Gain’ Only Half the Story?

It’s often been said in business networking circles that “givers gain”.
Does Givers Gain suggest a ‘you scratch my back; I’ll scratch yours’ culture?
Does it create a presumption that if I refer business to you, you have to refer business back to me?
Let’s add some perspective to this: when you recommend your doctor or local supermarket, do you expect them to give you a new client in return?
Examining examples from the field
Recently I:

  • – Recommended a business to a friend who needed its services
  • – Connected two people who ran complementary businesses
  • – Talked about another person’s talents to a stranger

I did all this without expectation. In fact, in two out of those three situations, the person I was recommending didn’t even know about it!
So what’s the other half of the Givers Gain story?
If I give you business, should I never expect anything in return?
Is this connected to trust? If I only recommend you because I expect something from you (and when does that become ‘demand’?), then do I trust your expertise?
How do you navigate this? How can you be generous and authentic, and genuinely recommend people?
I think the other half of this story is about the GIVE.
New business networking and social media is a noisy world. We have to fight for everyone’s attention and the way to do that is to constantly give value.
What does value look like?
It might be advice from your profession, or to constantly be on the lookout for business for other people. Maybe it’s an opportunity to help the person in front of you by recommending the services of someone else.
Here are five ways you can GIVE to gain:

1. Recommend someone without them knowing.
It creates value for all involved and you avoid the presumption that they have to give back to you.

2. Recommend someone in writing.
A testimonial or recommendation via Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, Google or good ol’ fashioned email is an incredibly valuable marketing tool.

3. Generously give advice, information, your time and your expertise.
Being known as the go-to person in your industry instantly aligns your products and services with value.

4. Look for synergies between your own and other people’s businesses.
Great connections are about collaborations, not just clients.

5. Create an environment where people are free to connect – without expectation.
4N is great for this because of its 50% social, 50% business stance, but there are numerous opportunities out there. You can even create your own.

How do you navigate these cloudy waters? Do you think to give is to gain and it should always be like for like? Or do you prefer to offer tonnes of value, knowing that you’ll gain in the long term?

“I implemented one more thing from the Retreat and it has resulted in a new client which gives me a positive ROI within 6 days”
Claire McTernan – Employee to Business Owner

“within two months I went from an average of one client per month from networking, to five clients”
Samantha Rollins, Trinity Accountants