Asking For A Favor: Apply Reciprocity As A Constant, Not An Anomaly

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I think it's important to talk about the relationships businesspeople maintain, and the underlying culture of favors that permeates those same relationships. We all ask for favors, and if you haven't yet had to cross that bridge, you will at some point or another throughout your uphill enterprise trek. I know I have. But when you're gearing up to ask someone for a favor, have you thought about whether or not you're really in the position to do so? What are the prerequisites that you need under your belt to be able to request a business favor from an associate?

I would say that the formula is an easy one to adopt. I applied this "mantra" to my own professional and personal conduct years ago, and it has paid for itself in spades. I am a big believer in what I like to call "Internet karma," and this all ties into the culture of favors at work in business globally.

Before you approach a business associate for a "little" favor, you need to ask yourself the following questions. Be honest, now.

  1. Have you at some point supported this person in a business capacity?
  2. Have you, of your own accord, made the initiative to demonstrate care for that person's professional growth?
  3. Can you honestly say that you promoted this person's business agenda, and made a positive impact on their business, however small it may be?

Answering affirmative to those three questions means that you are well positioned to ask for a favor- even a big favor. This favor could be a recommendation, an introduction to a key person, or even an opinion on your 2016 marketing strategy. You've given your time or your resources (or both) to help out this associate in the past, and the next time you're looking for an endorsement or a boost on your new digi campaign, you can bet they'll be on board, no questions asked.

But if you haven't taken the initiative to help out this associate in the past, why would you think that asking for something is a good idea? This is when my theory about Internet karma enters the equation. I'm active on a few different digital mediums, and I often use my personal account to promote other people's events and work (blog posts, videos, and campaigns included), and even gather information when it is needed by people I know. Because of that, I have great Internet karma. When I need a retweet or help promoting something, I've got tons of tweeps that are happy to do so of their own free will- it's the beauty of reciprocity.

Do I mind when people ask me for favors? Not if they've made a genuine effort to support my current or previous initiatives. The flip side of this is that asking me to promote your event or facilitate an intro probably won't go over very well if you've never expressed any interest in my endeavors. I think I'm like most professionals in this regard. Using your skillset and influence to spread around success is great for your business (and Internet) karma. Give it a try.

Related: Your Tough Experiences As An Entrepreneur Can Help Your Peers Succeed With Their Endeavors