I got reminded of this today with something that's happened to me over the last couple of years. I'd chucked a lot of leads over the fence to a good contact that worked with a competitor a few times with nothing in return (because we couldn't offer the prospect a solution as good as they could). Giving them the benefit of the doubt paid off because 8 months later, they threw back the bone and its size eclipsed all the ones I threw the other way.
Is selfishness a bad thing ?
Looking back at it, I never gave to receive (at least I thought I didn't) ... but the more I learned about the psyche the more I realised that what I did probably right up there with charity as one of the most selfish things a person can do. Is selfishness a bad thing ? ... it depends on the effect it has on others. If your selfish act negatively effects others then yes, it is a nasty trait. But if it doesn't, what's wrong with making yourself feel good ?
The action creates a positive reinforcing loop, part of the cue routine reward system. You give to charity because you know it will make you feel good. Keeping to this mindset will ultimately make everyday a lot more pleasant as you wont feel like you're giving stuff away for free ... see it as an investment. It may be selfish, but I'd rather be happy and potentially owed something ... which brings me to the next reason why lots of favours are good.
Don't give just to expect to receive, give because you've got a lot to give. Become your industry's valuable resource ... everyone will want to be speaking to you. By this I don't mean work for free, just give as much good as you can without completely putting yourself out of your way ... someone may have had it come their way and want to give some back. The best bit is that there is a double edged sword, remember the reciprocity effect? People (most) will naturally want to give back when they receive, its in our nature to feel obliged to help those that have helped us.
Now for the hippy section of this post ... remember that what goes around comes around. If they're not repaying the favour, ever, don't be put off ... word gets around and life will throw something your way soon, life is a lot more pleasant for those willing to help. And don't worry, those sat at the other extreme will get repercussions too! Today's connectivity is accelerating at such a rate that it wont be long until you're warned about life's leeches as quick as your sat nav tells you there's upcoming traffic, pitfalls en route are quickly spotted and avoided.
Remember that what goes around comes around