Years ago, Stephen Covey introduced the Emotional Bank Account, a concept that applies even more in this era of on-line relationships. Covey's premise is that relationships are like bank accounts that begin with a zero balance. His advice is that we should never withdraw more than we deposit or seek to "get" before we give.
Every now and then when one logs on to LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook, there is a reminder of why reciprocity is so important in networking especially when a relationship is online.
For example, one of my colleagues gave me permission to modify and share his recent experience. Out of the blue, he received a request for professional assistance on LinkedIn from someone he had never met and who wasn't even a connection. Another colleague who runs a small PR firm has often expressed frustration about not hearing from former co-workers until they have been notified of a layoff and they need her help with a job search. She has frequently asked: "Over the years, why didn't they ever think of contacting me when someone in their organization had a need for my services? Why do I only hear from them when they need something?"
Maintaining a Healthy Balance in Your Social Media Emotional Bank Account
To build constructive relationships, Covey stresses the need to make regular deposits and maintain a healthy balance in our Emotional Bank Account. In a social media context, we make deposits by sharing tips, advice, content, business referrals, job postings, testimonials, endorsements, and information. On Twitter, we deposit by volunteering to moderate chats, re-tweeting or tweeting high quality content created by others. In social media, we withdraw by asking for assistance, job leads, referrals, and testimonials.
As the new year unfolds, it's important to keep Covey's Emotional Bank Account in mind. Consider adding reciprocity in relationships to your New Year's Resolutions. Reach out to colleagues, friends, former co-workers, and social media contacts. Look for ways to offer helpful content, tips and assistance. Otherwise, don't be surprised to find your emotional piggy bank empty the next time you need to make a withdrawal.
For more tips on building reciprocal social media relationships, also consult Top 10 Ways to Alienate People on LinkedIn, 5 Ways to Alienate People on Twitter and #EIR - 12 tips to balance your Twitter yin & yang.
Photo Credit: 401(K) 2013