Chances are you’ve seen the movie Pay it Forward, a charming film with a great underlying philosophy. Its principle is that, when it comes to building a network, it's not about what you can get from people, but what you can do for people. It’s a great concept to revisit. So many of us, including myself in my earlier days, are faced with the pressure of ‘closing the deal.’ This makes it easy to forget that what’s really important is building long lasting relationships.

Going the extra mile

At Potential Squared, we help our clients and partners in any way we think they will benefit. This often means going above and beyond the services we offer as a corporate entity. For example, recently I coached a client’s son in preparing for a job interview. Certainly, I didn’t need to do it, nor was I expected to – but I was practising what I preach and paying it forward.

The whole ‘pay it forward’ principle focuses on valuing client relationships and the trust you gain from doing so. That’s why today our clients know that everything we do, we may do for purpose, but we don’t immediately expect anything in return. What we ask is that they respect and value the relationship we offer. As our business comes largely through word of mouth, our attempts to go that extra mile inevitably pay off – not just for our clients, but for us too.

The whole ‘pay it forward’ principle focuses on valuing client relationships and the trust you gain from doing so.

Following the leaders

From charitable causes, to pro-bono work, to scholarships, there are countless examples of this principle in action in the corporate world. And this includes big brands as well. Consider Amazon. When they first launched, they projected that they would not make a profit for the first five years on the basis that they would offer a service customers would love, without cutting corners. Today, I do most of my shopping on Amazon. Why? Because they kept their promise by consistently offering choice, delivery and ease of doing business. If they had focussed on making money from day one, the outcome would have been completely different.

The right frame of mind

The principle of paying it forward means finding the right balance. You can’t force a client relationship, nor can you expect them to return the favour right away. But you can create conditions for clients to be successful, which should in turn lead to your success. If you think you don’t have the time or resources to go that extra mile, think of the money you spend marketing your company. Perhaps that budget could go farther by doing more for your clients, for less. Whatever you do, this principle doesn’t have to cost a lot of time or money; it’s just a frame of mind.

Attitude is everything

For this principle to lead to business success, you need to not only believe in it, but to deliver it with confidence. Informally, the pay it forward philosophy is one we’ve always embraced, but it was not until 2007 that we began to confidently use the term as a way of describing what we already did.

Since that time, by avoiding the hard sell and putting our clients first, we’ve become recognised by clients as (and I quote) ‘one of the good guys.’ By creating conditions where clients feel valued for who they are, not how much business they can bring, we’ve not only proven that paying it forward works, but that nice guys can finish first.