When someone does something positive for you, it feels good – and importantly, makes you want to do something in return.
If a friend buys you coffee or lunch, you’ll insist that “it’s on me” next time you meet up. If a neighbour takes in your parcel or watches your cat while you’re away, you want to return the favour. That’s the Law of Reciprocity in action.
It’s a great rule in life – and in business too. In this article, I’ll explain how to use the Law of Reciprocity to win the trust of your clients and contacts, and to grow your business the right way – by building sustainable relationships using LinkedIn based on mutual support and understanding.
What is the Law of Reciprocity?
The Law of Reciprocity is an academic theory of social psychology. Fundamentally, when someone does something positive for you, you feel like you should do something positive for them in return.
We all know that feeling of being compelled to do something to return a kind or helpful gesture. You can harness this to strengthen your network, build and nurture lasting professional relationships, and grow your business.
Here’s an example – often when I get referred business from my connections, I feel obliged to refer business back. That’s the law of reciprocity in action!
Interacting with LinkedIn content
You can start small when it comes to using the Law of Reciprocity. When one of your connections has taken the time to share content on LinkedIn, they will really appreciate it if you interact with that content by liking, commenting on, or sharing their posts. It’s a great way to build rapport, and they are much more likely to engage with YOUR posts by liking, commenting on and sharing in return.
You should be adding content on LinkedIn to offer value. If they are encouraged to click on your LinkedIn profile, your network may be positively surprised to see you freely giving away information, advice, and expert opinion. It immediately shows that you are a valuable resource, particularly when that content has been written with your Ideal Client Profile in mind. And by building trust, prospective clients are more likely to buy from you.
As a useful guide, your LinkedIn SSI score will give you a great steer on whether your engagement is going in the right direction. The ultimate proof is when your consistency and hard work pay off in terms of leads that convert to sales.
Recommendations, endorsements and testimonials
If you give recommendations, endorsements and testimonials to trusted members of your network, this can really help your professional brand. And (you guessed it) – they are much more likely to reciprocate by recommending or endorsing you, or giving a testimonial. These provide great social proof of who you are and what you’re capable of, and can often be a deciding factor in whether a prospect will reach out to you or not. It’s definitely win-win when you think in terms of the Law of Reciprocity.
Offer something of value…
The Law of Reciprocity can be one of the keys to Social Selling. By offering something that your prospective client will value for free, you can build trust, meaning that ultimately your prospective clients are more likely to buy from YOU.
A great example of this was when I offered the managing partners of about 100 accountancy firms in London a copy of the book I had written (with them in mind!). My strategy was to send them a paperback copy in the post and then follow up with them later. This helped earn the trust of several managing partners, so they were happy to have a conversation over the phone.
I was then able to convert a percentage of these conversations into sales. The more people I spoke to on the phone and in person, the more I converted into real paying clients. They got to know, like and trust me.
You don’t have to spend 6 months writing a book like I did, but you could offer something similar like a free guide or report – anything that is valuable and can help the people you are targeting. The underlying principle is that people feel obliged to do something in return.
…but please don’t spam!
However, please don’t fall into the trap of spamming your connections with free stuff – there is a huge difference! My LinkedIn inbox regularly gets spammed with unsolicited messages offering me free trials and all types of demos. They haven’t even bothered to properly check out my Linkedin profile or get to know me. There’s no bigger turn-off than the cold hard sell, and the only way that behaviour like this is likely to be reciprocated is by your connections hitting the ‘disconnect’ button.
Instead, I prefer to offer value, and nurture a professional, long-lasting relationship with my prospective clients, so that they know, like and trust me.
I like to explain Social Selling as:
Rapport Building + Value = Sales
THAT’s how you use the Law of Reciprocity!
My 4C Method and the Law of Reciprocity
The Law of Reciprocity underpins my own ‘4C Method’ for Prospecting Like a Pro. It’s a simple 4 step approach that takes you from identifying prospects to your ultimate goal, to CONVERT, as follows:
- Step 1. ‘Collect’ – finding and gathering the right people – your targeted prospects – on LinkedIn.
- Step 2. ‘Connect’ – sending a personalised connection request, followed by a welcome message. Making them feel like a valued connection will mean they are more likely to converse and engage with you in return from the very start of your relationship.
- Step 3 – ‘Converse’ – engaging with prospects and providing value to build the relationship.
- Step 4 – ‘Convert’ – adding more value and then moving the conversation offline when the time is right, through a series of relationship-building messages.
This may sound daunting, but in my Complete LinkedIn Mastery Course, I’ll take you through this approach step by step. You’ll have valuable resources at your fingertips, including worksheets, checklists, templates and messaging scripts to get instant results on LinkedIn.
My method is all about nurturing the relationship with your prospects and showing them that they can trust you. Show them you can find a solution to their pain points – the business problems that are holding them back. It does take a little bit of time, but when you’ve invested the effort in building a relationship you’re much more likely to close that sale – and it won’t feel salesy!
If you’d like to find out more about my Complete LinkedIn Mastery Course, please feel free to head over to my website, drop me an email at [email protected], or message me directly on LinkedIn for further support.