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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.