Tag Archives: reputation

Referrals Require Trust

Trust, I recently reviewed a book on trust, I am not sure how many people read it but I will say in the world of referrals, trust is the most important aspect of the referral relationship.

I read blogs and articles all the time talking about your elevator pitch, your message, your handshake, your networking activities and blah, blah, blah.  While all of this is great information for “Networking” and developing your “Word of Mouth” marketing it is not the thing that will get you the level of referrals that you are looking for.  The reality is when it comes to referring you,  I don’t care how good your message is, if your handshake is the best and you are the best networker in town!

What I do care about is this:  IF I give you a referral, when you are done with that referral will I still look good in the eyes of the person I referred?  My reputation, what people think of me and about me is important to me. The number one reason that people do not pass “Qualified Referrals” is the trust issue.  They do not want to risk their name.

With very little trust I can give out all kinds of leads, because my name is not closely tied to the lead, it will not have a major affect on me if it goes bad so I don’t mind taking the chance.

I had to learn this the hard way,  I referred a person to one of my very good friends, we will call him Joe Smith.  Joe owned a very successful printing company who employed several hundred people.  One day Bill asked for a referral to Joe, I did not know Bill very well but he seemed OK,  so I referred him to Joe.

Bill was late to the first meeting, Bill did not follow up after the meeting in a timely manner, in fact Bill dropped the ball in many ways with Joe.  The very next time I saw Joe was at a cocktail party and of course the conversation came around to business and here is the comment that Joe made to the entire group, “Don’t let Hazel refer you to any of the Yahoos in her network, what a joke.”  Ouch!  Not only was I hurt by Bills poor performance, my entire network was now unable to be referred to Joe who actually was in need of many more services that my network could have provided.

Lessons learned:

1.  Only “refer” those whom your know well and have a high level of trust with.  I do not have to worry about my reputation when I put the referral in the hands of one of my trusted referral partners.

2.  Stay involved with the referral.  Had I bothered to follow up with both parties during and after the referral I would have known what was going on and could have saved my reputation as well as my networks. All to often we pass referrals and never think about them again.

3.  Give feedback to the person you referred, they may or may not be aware of the issue and at the very least they should know why you are not going to refer them again.

Sometimes the best lessons are the hardest lessons.  If you are getting a lot of low level leads from your network, ask yourself what you need to do to increase your trust.  Take time to build trust with people and you will find that the referrals you get are of a much higher quality.


Your Reputation and Networking

What can/does networking do for your professional reputation?

By “professional reputation”, I mean how people view you as a professional both in the meeting room and outside the office. Your integrity, respect, intelligence, and impact on those around you. When you network through LinkedIn, how can professional networking relate to all these areas?

Networking creates visibility for you, people know who you are and have a face to put with a name.  Quality networking can indeed enhance your reputation and create credibility for you.  Poor networking can create a different reputation.  People who drink to much, people who pitch and pressure others about their product or service and people who show up in person with a very poor professional image, create a whole different reputation, not the one they may have wanted. 


There is a person on Linkedin who consistently puts stupid, trying to be funny,  answers to peoples questions, he thinks he is cute, many others think very differently, so he has a reputation, it just may not be the one he wants. 


Online or in person, it is very important to mind your manners, behave professionally, don’t be a know it all, participate, answer questions intelligently, follow up with people, become known as someone who does what they say and always Give before asking to Get.  You will be well respected, thought of as someone who is intelligent and connected.  You will be someone that others want to be linked to. 


My friend Scott Allen wrote a book called “The Virtual Handshake”  it is a great resource for people who want to network online.  Dr Ivan Misner founder of BNI and the Referral Institue has written many great books on Networking and how to build credibility with your network. 

If you borrow it…..return it better

How many times have you loaned something to someone only to have them return it damaged? How do you feel? Angry, disappointed and yes hurt, after all it was your item and you trusted the person that you loaned the item to.

We loan our credibility to others regularly when we make a connection for others or pass a referral to them. Each time we make a connection or a referral we are allowing others to borrow our credibility. Unfortunately many times that credibility is brought back, nicked and scratched.

So, when you go in on someone else’s credibility, what are you doing to return it better than when you borrowed it? What steps do you take to increase the credibility of the person who gave you your last referral or last great connection? How do you bring a persons reputation back better than when you borrowed it?

Remember, if you borrow it, return it better than when you got it!