Schedule a Call


Sep 25, 2023

Robert Cialdini's is the author of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. The book has sold over 5 million copies and is considered one of the best resources for influence and persuasion.  He cites a number of principles for persuasion - one of which is reciprocity.  

Reciprocity is when people feel obliged to give back when they receive something.  This principle explains why free samples and favors can lead to increased compliance.  If someone is complying with what you want them to do, feels obligated to buy your product or does whatever you are asking them to do - you have  successfully influenced and persuaded them.

Reciprocity is a nearly universal human tendency observed across cultures.  People from various backgrounds tend to feel obligated to reciprocate when someone has done something for them.

At Contacts Count we take a slightly different view of reciprocity.  We do not deny that reciprocity is a universal human tendency.  I am sure you have experienced that feeling of wanting to do something for another person when they have done something for you.  Are you doing something for the other person because you feel obligated or are you doing something because you want to?

Our first competency is Adopt a Positive Networking Identity.  It is based on networking conversations that are all about teaching and giving. Teach the other person about who you are and what you are all about.  Learn about the other person – who they are and who they are all about. The more we learn about each other the greater likelihood we can help/give back to each other in some way.  

When we are learning about the other person we need to "listen for the give".  What are you hearing that gives you some idea about what you give back to the other person - either immediately or sometime in the future.  If you hear the other person is interested in "X", you should do your best to send them any information you come across about "X".  

The more two people help each other and the more they give back to each other, over time they eventually create a trust-based mutually beneficial relationship.  The reciprocity that exists in these relationships is based on wanting to reciprocate, not feeling obliged to reciprocate. Creating a number of trust-based mutually beneficial relationships in your network will have a major impact on your professional and personal life. 

What type of impact?  From something as simple as recommending a great restaurant, sending you an article, introducing to others in their network, helping you learn something the other person knows a lot about, helping you solve problems, to alerting you to a new opportunity that advances your career.


About the Author

Vern Schellenger, President and CEO of Contact Count.

Contacts Count is the premier coaching and training organization

dedicated to helping you use the power of human connection to transform your career, business, and life.

Vern is dedicated to empowering professionals and entrepreneurs with the strategies, skills and tools to master networking (even if they are introverted and don’t like networking events). His vast experience includes such roles as HR VP and CLO at Dunkin Donuts, VP & Director of Professional Services at Lee Hecht Harrison, and SR VP of Human Resources at American Bankers Association.


Discover tweaks you can make to your networking approach that will help you dramatically improve your skills and reduce the time it’ll take to find that person who has the power to hire you!