How to leverage reciprocity to improve your business relationships

Reciprocity is the catalyst of the golden rule- treat others the way you want to be treated. Most of us are taught this lesson at some point early in our lives, as a means of better understanding how to build relationships, mutual respect, and the value of giving to others. These fundamental principles should not be lost in the latter stages of life – especially when it comes to our professions. Not only does reciprocity play a key role in the way we develop and maintain our relationships, it is central to the way we as individuals can support and improve our business relationships.

Why is reciprocity important?

Reciprocity is a byproduct of fundamental values and attributes people possess. Values like consistency, hard work, perseverance- these are all things that can be contagious in the workplace. As a leader or co-worker, you can elevate others by using the attributes you already possess. When we fail to show others these attributes however, we damage our relationships and lose the potential to make them even stronger. When people see you lead by example- it is human nature to reciprocate. When we think about these actions- we often think of this as a daunting task, or putting ourselves out there too much- when in reality, this can be as simple as rewarding someone for their hard work.

Reciprocity in business

As a business, how much time do you spend saying thank you? This could be to clients, peers, or prospects. Is showing gratitude built into your budget? How often do you see people in your office showing gratitude? These are all questions that good leaders should ask themselves. For example, some of our most successful clients are incorporating gratitude in their sales process to shorten the sales cycle, or building organizational positivity and momentum with employee appreciation. Either way, these initiatives are carved out of a budget – but the return on the investment far surpasses the cost.

The art of giving can change the way people view your company. Gratitude is something that not only can but should be presented and shown before any transaction is made. This may be in the form of a piece of knowledge or insight, product samples or demos, or even a beneficial idea that someone hadn’t previously thought of. Showing that you are an expert at whatever your company does and incorporating this into showing appreciation is a great way to grab attention, and express credibility to potential clients.

How to spark reciprocity with clients?

A job well done or a good experience is by far the best way to show that you value your customers. When nurturing a lead or existing client, going the extra mile is what will set your business apart from your competitors. A small act of paying it forward creates a chain reaction that will go into your prospective client pool. This can be as simple as sending a coffee- or someone’s favorite treat. Doing this opens the door for further conversation all while building relationships.

A big way clients show reciprocity is referrals. Referrals are the backbone to any successful business, and can be a safety net down the road. When you go the extra mile for an existing client- they will not only become a repeat client, but they will also spread the word. People trust your business- and people trust their friends and peers. Being able to show value from day 1 is extremely important- and you can do this by showing gratitude.

Make sure what you are doing or sending is genuine

There is one cardinal rule here-never do it for you, do it for them. When giving to anyone in business, you should have zero expectation of receiving anything in return. Reciprocity is only as valuable as the original intention, and the act of giving should be sincere and genuine. As we’re taught as children – give before you ask and you will get more in return – or as St. Francis of Assisi famously said, “it is in giving that we receive”. The age-old wisdom all points to the fact that showing genuine gratitude to others ends up bringing benefit back to you!

Personalization is also important when connecting in a genuine way – at Thnks, we take great steps to include personalization options with all tokens of appreciation available on our platform. This can be done by adding your recipient’s name, congratulating them for a recent achievement, or remembering their favorite lunch spot. It can also be done through the incorporation of sharing gratitude that you’re sure will connect with your recipient, their hobbies, their tastes, their personality.

Setting a genuine intention and following through is the goal of paying it forward, and also what we seek to achieve with every token of appreciation sent through Thnks.