rec·i·proc·i·ty [ resəˈpräsədē ] noun – The practice of exchanging things with others for mutual benefit. Everything we do, we do for a reason. I learned a long time ago in business school that we are all REMIs (Realizing, Evaluating, Maximizing Individuals). It’s just human nature. We do things, for the most part, that are in our own self-interest, even if they simultaneously benefit other people. That doesn’t necessarily make us selfish or evil. In fact, some of the best paragons of altruism are probably driven by this notion of reciprocity.
Reciprocity is a continuum. I’m sure we’ve all seen people at the lower end who seem to act only in their own interests. We call them greedy, selfish, etc. Maybe they live their whole lives this way, or maybe this is the only facet of their lives that we get to see. By not reciprocating or sharing with others, they are missing out on an important aspect of life. Try not to judge unless you’re sure you see the whole picture.
Quid pro quo
Providing or producing goods or services is how most of us spend our time. These are exchange relationships in which we provide our goods or services to others in the hopes of receiving something in return. For most of us, this takes the form of compensation for work performed. It could also be “pay-it-forward,” where you do something supposedly altruistically today in hopes of some reward tomorrow. Indeed, this is a major driver of most of the world’s most popular religions.
Agapē is charitable, selfless, altruistic and unconditional. An example is parental love that seems to exist only in the moment, with no expectation of future benefit. That doesn’t mean that the parent doesn’t derive a reciprocal contemporaneous benefit, they just don’t expect a future tangible reward. Some say it is the way God is seen to love humanity.
What the heck does any of this have to do with RPCN ???
I’m not sure why all of you are drawn to RPCN. Your membership probably looks good on a résumé. I’m sure it gives you credibility and access to a wider pool of clients. But becoming an active member goes even further! I should know.
My first experience with RPCN started almost four years ago, when I attended the 2014 Boot Camp, led by Bob Lurz. I had spent years working in corporate gigs, occasionally moonlighting as a consultant. It wasn’t until that Boot Camp that I felt empowered to turn my moonlighting activities into an actual full-time business.
I started attending RPCN events, including board meetings, until the leadership realized I wasn’t going away and eventually asked me to join the board. I started out my professional career as a software engineer and I always felt most comfortable wrapped in a comfortable cocoon of an 8x10 cubicle. Now I’m just as comfortable standing up in front of a room full of people and explaining what I can do for them.
I believe that this transformation has come about from my experience with RPCN. From weekly “elevator pitches” to multiple committee membership roles, I have grown from being a hopeful consultant to being a successful entrepreneurial consultant. I encourage all of you to give it a try. That kind of involvement is where reciprocity comes to life, benefiting the individual and the organization as both an entity and a group of members.
There are a number of ways you can help RPCN and help yourself in the process. Feel free to contact me if you’d like to lend a hand. Reciprocity works for all of us.
The holiday season is upon us – how do we manage client greetings?
By Ruth E. Thaler-Carter, “I can write about anything!”®, www.writerruth.com, RPCN Newsletter Editor
Consultants and entrepreneurs face this issue every year: How do I greet and thank my clients/customers during the December holidays? Is it appropriate to send gifts to my clients/customers?
I’m a big believer in end-of-the-year gestures for my clients. Sending a holiday or end-of-the-year greeting, with or without a gift, is a good business and marketing move. Expressing appreciation for a client’s business shows you don’t take them for granted. With clients you only hear from once in awhile, that holiday greeting is also a great reminder of your services and contributions to the success of their business or projects. The arrival of my holiday greeting always triggers at least one response along the lines of, “What great timing – your package made me realize that we need your writing/editing/proofreading services for this new project. Are you available for …?”
Because I don’t know what everyone celebrates, I use a thank-you message rather than “Merry Christmas,” “Happy Chanukah” or even “Happy Holidays.” I respect everyone’s choice of holiday to celebrate, and I don’t assume that everyone celebrates the same things that I do.
I collect items throughout the year to use as part of a small gift box. Since I’m known for being somewhat obsessed with all things purple, these tend to be purple candies and knick-knacks. Each box includes a mug and pen with my business contact information, business card, and greeting card. Some years, I’ve sent candles (purple, of course – lilac-scented, in honor of our Rochester lilacs!) or seed packets with appropriate language in the card. The overall value is well within the limits that government employees are allowed to accept, and the nature of the gift stands out from the common gift basket, generic chocolate, bottle of wine, etc.
If the month of December gets really crazy, I sometimes send out my greeting and gift in early January as more of a “thank you for your business last year, here’s to a great new year together” message than one that references the holidays. (The advantage of waiting until January is that my greeting doesn’t get lost in the flood of everyone else’s holiday messages.)
At least under current guidelines, the gifts and the cost of sending them are tax-deductible business expenses, making them a practical investment in your business.
I enjoy the opportunity to recognize that my communications consulting business would not exist without my clients, and to let them know that they mean more to me than just a payment with each completed project.
Here’s to a happy holiday season and profitable new year to all my RPCN colleagues!
(If you would like to share your holiday client recognition process with RPCN colleagues, chime in at our Facebook and/or LinkedIn pages.)
Power up your business with the 2018 RPCN Business Boot Camp
The 2018 RPCN Business Boot Camp is a great way to start the new year and invest in the success and health of your consulting business. Sessions will be held from 8 a.m.–12:30 p.m. on February 6, 13 and 20, and 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m. on February 27 and March 6, all at High Tech Rochester, Lennox Tech Center (150 Lucius Gordon Drive, W. Henrietta). Sessions will provide hands-on, practical information and tools that you can apply while you learn from successful business owners who are generous in sharing their knowledge and experience.
Topics will include: • DEFINE your Services, Clients & Value (Your Foundation) • CHOOSE a Legal Entity (DBA, LLC, Corp.; liability, taxes) • BUILD Your Reputation and Image • MARKET Your Services • INTERVIEW Potential Clients and Discover your Value • PRESENT Your Value Proposition and Receive Expert Feedback
Register early and save $50! Costs are $245 for RPCN members and $295 for non-members through January 8; $295 for RPCN members and $345 for non-members after January 8. If you know of someone who has been thinking about joining the RPCN, let them know that they can join and take advantage of the member rate for this invaluable program.
Recent blogs by RPCN members for the Eastman Business Park (EBP) include: CLICK HERE
“Should you file a Provisional Patent Application?” by Dick Blazey, who says, “The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) offers several types of patents. The most common are Utility Patents, Design Patents, and Plant Patents. Utility Patents are 90% of all the patents filed. … “The most important value of a provisional patent application is to protect your patent rights from being lost due to public disclosure or offering for sale. …”
“OpEx and Your Business,” by David Powe, who says, “Imagine if everyone on your team or everyone in your company was not only doing their job every day, but also looking to improve the way the company functions. That's my vision of an engaged workforce! Wise CEOs, HR Executives and Managers are always looking for ways to get their teams engaged. Engagement boosts productivity, morale and retention. But how do you do it?
“I have found that maximizing your Operational Excellence (OpEx) practices – continuous improvement of the processes that drive customer value - is an excellent way to drive employee engagement. …”
If you have a blog, here are some tips for promoting it more effectively: https://www.theworkathomewoman.com/pr-opportunities-women/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=SocialWarfare
Ruth E. Thaler-Carter’s November “On the Basics” column for Rich Adin’s An American Editor blog is about coping with isolation as a freelancer. The focus is on the publishing/editorial field, but the tips work for independent consultants as well. https://americaneditor.wordpress.com/2017/11/06/on-the-basics-overcoming-a-freelancers-isolation/
Members in the News
Michelle Arbore spoke at an all-day event in August called Mass Production Live. RPCN colleagues offer their best wishes to webmaster Steve Royal, who has been in the hospital (RGH).
Ruth E. Thaler-Carter has been asked to chair a committee to organize the first-ever Writers and Books conference, to be held in June 2018.
Larry Berger’s book Instant Poetry (Just add words!) was accepted for the ATJ book festival in Tucson, AZ, in August. The book is available at the Park Point Barnes and Noble and the Arnett branch of the Monroe County Library System.
Economic Development, the opportunities and how to take advantage of them to grow your business!
On Friday, January 12, 2018, from 8:00 am to 9:30 am, Learn why the RPCN board decided to develop relationships with organizations such as the FLREDC, High Tech Rochester, Pathstone Enterprises and Eastman Business Park, which are driving economic development in our region. Learn why the RPCN board decided to develop these relationships. For details and to register, CLICK HERE.
Friday, January 19, 2018; 8:00 a.m. - 9:30 a.m., Pittsford Community Library, 24 State St., Pittsford, NY 14534
Facilitated by Bob Lurz. An informal, facilitated roundtable discussion of issues regarding starting or running a consulting business. Wondering what kind of questions people are asking? Click here for a list from recent forums.
Friday, January 19n 2018; 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 PM; Pittsford Library, after the Business Forum Do you want to know what happens "behind the scenes" at RPCN? Come to a board meeting and find out. Everyone is welcome to attend, but only board members may vote. The RPCN month board meeting begins at approximately 10:00 a.m. after the Business Forum.
Friday, February 2, 2018, 8:00 a.m. - 9:30 a.m. Pittsford Community Library, 24 State St., Pittsford, N Y 14534
Facilitated by Steve Royal. An informal, facilitated roundtable discussion of any technical issues that consultants encounter in running their businesses, including computers, the Internet and phones. Wondering what kind of questions people are asking? Click here for a list from previous forums.
Friday, February 9, 2018, 8:00 am - 9:30 am at Five Star Bank, City Gate.
Michelle Atlas will give you specific tools to begin mastering money in your life, in your relationships, and in your business/career.
We want you!
The RPCN newsletter welcomes news, success stories, tips, resources, events and other items that would be of broad interest to consultants. Submit a newsletter item by e-mail to the Newsletter Committee. RPCN members also may write articles for our website; submit articles here. In the newsletter, we'll highlight submitted articles aimed at helping consultants make their businesses better. If you have newsletter questions or suggestions, or ideas for how RPCN could improve communications, contact the Newsletter Committee: Ruth E. Thaler-Carter, chair and editor, and Steve Royal, publisher.
Not an RPCN member? You can join RPCN now to receive great benefits, including free admission to RPCN presentations at Brighton Town Hall, a listing in the RPCN Member Directory, and discounts to RPCN events. CLICK HERE for more information on joining RPCN.