Innovation is a team sport. That’s why groups often produce better results than the lone genius. That’s also why it’s important that you recruit others to help you with your creative projects, but how? Well, your reputation is what determines how agreeable others will be to collaborating with you.

The degree to which a worker will share information with a colleague depends on that colleague's reputation for returning the favor. Treating others as you want them to treat you in terms of collaboration is the “Golden Rule” of creativity, so to speak.

It’s officially called the rule of reciprocity, which means that people give back in the form that they have received. It’s a social rule seemingly taught within every human society. But the key is you have to make the first move.

Anyone can learn how to align co-workers. Dr. Robert Cialdini, in his book Influence: Science and Practice, describes six universal principles of persuasion, including reciprocity, that all increase the likelihood of someone saying ‘yes’ to your request. These principles are life skills that you can use personally and professionally.

With reciprocity, there are many ways you can help your colleagues at work. Try taking interest in their projects, lending your advice and expertise, giving feedback, sharing critical information and your network to find others who can help them and complement their work.

Even small gestures go a long way. A colleague of mine, Karl, purchased four antique maps for $1.00 at a garage sale for another colleague, Bob, who collected old maps. For the next thirty years, that simple favor solidified their relationship. Bob took care of Karl during their careers, and he often reminded Karl about his unexpected gift of old maps. All for a dollar!

And it works the other way. When you receive help from others, reciprocate in kind. Build a reputation as a person who is willing to give back to others who have given to you. It’s the Golden Rule, and its effects last a long time as it did with Bob and Karl.

And finally, develop informal social relationships and networks within and outside your work group. One of the best ways to be seen as helpful is to make the time to relate to others. That keeps them coming back to help you be more effective at everything you do.

Drew Boyd

Drew Boyd is a 30-year industry veteran. He spent 17 years at Johnson & Johnson in marketing, mergers and acquisitions, and international development. Today, he trains, consults and speaks widely in the fields of innovation, persuasion and social media. He is the executive director of the Master of Science in Marketing Program and assistant professor of Marketing and Innovation at the University of Cincinnati. Drew’s work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Industry Week, Psychology Today and Strategy+Business. Visit his blog, Inside the Box Innovation.

Drew is part of The Opener, an exclusive, invite-only contributor network that will bring the best food, culture, and innovation writing to the pages of Coca-Cola Journey.