Relationship Building R&R: Reciprocity & Repetition
When it comes to fostering relationships, the rule of 7 is good to keep in mind. The Marketing Rule of 7 is a well-known principle that states that prospects need to see a message at least 7 times before investing in a new product or service. It makes sense, since the more positive contact you have with someone, the more opportunities for a relationship to grow!
But building relationships takes work, and not all touch points are equal. That’s where reciprocity can help. In Robert B. Cialdini’s book, Influence, he discusses the power of reciprocity. In essence, people try to repay in kind what they’ve received from others. Good will leads to more good will. (If you receive an invitation to someone’s birthday for example, you’d probably want to return the favor!) By using the power of reciprocity through repetition—you can forge stronger relationships. We've outlined are a few ways you can be mindful of reciprocity in building stronger professional relationships with prospective clients.
Follow Up Thoughtfully & Personally At Every Opportunity
Of course, the key to a lasting relationship is being genuine, and establishing that there is no expectation of returning a gesture. Also, kind words can go a long way— one great touch point to include with prospects is a thank you note after the connecting for the first time. It’s a gesture of goodwill that doesn’t feel “salesy” nor pushy, especially when what you write is thoughtful and specific, not templated or promotional.
Give Something Valuable
In an article from Forbes, author Jeff Bradford writes about the “Give. Give. Give. Get.” formula — “You never think about asking anyone for anything today until you have first given them something of value, such as a whitepaper, case study or access to research—that is, valuable, ‘non-salesy’ information.”
One great touch point for relationship building is through sending something small that packs a lot of thought. Even better, researching prospects and making sure the gift is tailored to their interests, so they’ll be sure to appreciate it! You can take it up a notch by personalizing items (and subtly incorporating your company’s logo, too!)
Provide Free Resources
Genuinely useful content (like in-depth blog posts), and other forms of content marketing is a great way to establish your presence online. And offering free, high-value resources that you're able to share directly with a professional contact, even simply through email, is a way to nurture and build the professional relationship.
A lot of times, companies will offer resources in exchange for prospects’ email addresses. You can up your game a little further by providing content without requiring an email address and without mass e-mailing via marketing lists! This way, people will genuinely feel like you’re offering something without needing something from them in return, and they'll appreciate that what you send their way is valuable for them individually.
One final note: Lasting relationships don’t develop without consistency, and dedication. That’s why repetition is so important to keep in mind, along with the idea of reciprocity. “You get what you give” is a popular adage for a reason. So make sure you’re giving well, and giving consistently.