I am sure most of you have heard of Stephen R Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change, if you haven’t, get yourself a copy and read it. In his book, “Habit 4” is called Think Win/Win. Think Win/Win isn’t about being nice, nor is it a quick-fix technique. It is a character-based code for human interaction and collaboration. When two proactive, mission focused and organised, people meet effectiveness can be increased far beyond what we can achieve alone. Win/Win is a synergistic situation where both parties can mutually benefit. Win/Win takes a certain amount of investment to favour its occurrence. The first step is to recognise what the status of our human interaction is at a given time. We must not only ask ourselves what we want, but also ask what the other party wants from a given situation, bearing in mind that it’s ok to walk away if a common agreement is not found.
Following this very good read, I encountered Dr Ivan Misner, who is the founder of BNI, the world’s largest business network organisation. I realised he was talking about a similar concept and called it “Givers Gain”. In the context of networking groups, people who adopt this philosophy dedicate themselves to giving business to their fellow networkers rather than making their foremost concern getting business for themselves. In doing so, other people naturally become eager to repay their kindness by sending them business in return.
In my research, I discovered that Misner said that “Givers Gain” is a philosophy based on the law of reciprocity, so I went on to look for a definition.
Reciprocity, according to Wikipedia, in social psychology refers to responding to a positive action with another positive action, rewarding kind actions.
It goes on to say: “As a social construct, reciprocity means that in response to friendly actions, people are frequently much nicer and much more cooperative than predicted by the self-interest model; conversely, in response to hostile actions they are frequently much more nasty and even brutal.”
It doesn’t stop there. The deeper I looked, the more I realised, this reciprocity philosophy isn’t a new one. The concept of “Ayni” is a value held dear to the Andean traditions. This practice of community sharing dates back to the ancient agricultural times of the Incan empire and is still practiced today in the form of working together. Simply translated, it means “today for you, tomorrow for me”. “Ayni” refer to the concept of reciprocity or mutualism among people, the law of “Ayni” states that everything in the world is mutually connected and interrelated. It is the only commandment that rules daily life in many communities like the Q’ero tradition: the law of “Ayni” – the sacred art of reciprocity.
The cooperation between the members of a community when one member gives to another, he or she is entitled to receive something back, still today “Ayni” is a form of service in which farmers assist one another in the working of the fields. Rather than managing a seasonal crop one family at a time, groups of workers would gather together to divide up the labour.
So, put simply, in networking by providing benefits to others you will be creating strong relationships that will eventually bring benefits to you. These benefits will be created often in a very roundabout way rather than directly from the person you benefit. Remember my pollinating theory, it is a small action in one place, which has a ripple effect that creates another action somewhere else. The give and receive philosophy is an enormously powerful tool for growing the profitability of your own business.