These days, everyone is busy. With so many demands on our time, it’s easy to fall into the mindset of “Time is money,” “Don’t work for free,” or “What’s in it for me?” But over the 18 years I’ve worked as a recruiter in the Denver area, I’ve learned that it benefits you immensely to view every interaction as an opportunity to build a long-term relationship, rather than a transaction requiring compensation.

I’ve been a recruiter in the Denver area since 1999. At this stage in my career, most of my business comes from referrals. Those referrals come from years of relationship building. And yes, at times this relationship building has meant doing favors for free! But I can tell you that even if there is no immediate return, every favor you do pays you back in the long run.

Do you bring value to every interaction? Here’s how I strive to put value first:

Share information freely.
One of the benefits of working for a large, nationwide company is that we place a huge number of candidates and we have very current, comprehensive data on the industries in which we operate. I’ve had companies come to me who haven’t hired in a while and are struggling to set compensation for new roles they need to fill. Sometimes these companies become clients and other times they do not end up using a recruiter to support their search. No matter the outcome, I will do whatever I can to give them the information they need, free of charge. Even if they can’t hire me now, they might take us on for another search down the line.

Here in Denver, the current business climate is so favorable that we are seeing many companies moving into the area. They often don’t know the labor market well, and need all the advice they can get. While some companies might only share this kind of data for a fee, we are happy to help them out wherever we can.

Do what’s right for the person, not what’s right for the sale.
In addition to advising companies, giving candidates advice is a major part of my job. A job change is a critical crossroads in a person’s life. I want to make sure that the advice I give is unbiased and that I have their best interests at heart. Although it might be tempting to place a candidate in a role that isn’t the best fit in order to close the deal, I look at each candidate as a potential life-long relationship. A candidate who is placed into a job he loves and thrives in can become a hiring manager and client down the line. A candidate who hates her placement probably won’t work with me again– or refer other professionals my way, either.

Build your favor bank.
Even internally at the office, I try to help my colleagues wherever I can. There’s one woman I’ve worked with since I joined the firm. When she goes on vacation, I cover her work, and when I go on vacation, she covers mine. We have a long history of looking out for each other, and we each know the other has our back.

I call this “building the favor bank.” In order to withdraw favors from the bank, you have to put favors in. Even small favors help to build your balance sheet. I found out that one candidate I had placed years ago was about to have her first child, and so I offered her maternity clothes that I no longer needed. Everyone benefitted!

With so many people relocating to Denver to take advantage of the thriving labor market, we work with a lot of newcomers to the area. Even if we don’t end up placing them with our clients, I still give them advice to help them with their move: what different neighborhoods are like, upcoming events that might interest them, and how to navigate the school system. There may not be any monetary return but it’s a favor in the bank.

Get into the mindset of cultivating empathy and always considering other people’s needs. You’ll find it easy to identify ways you can add value to every interaction. When your colleagues and friends think of you as a person who has improved their lives, then you’ll really start to see returns.