Three important tips to avoid remorse for a referral, or when referrals fail

Referrals are the life blood of your business (I hope) and they are the “golden ticket” you are looking for when working with clients and when networking. In fact, most one-person-by-profession networking groups place a great emphasis on giving referrals.

One thing most of us learn after a while is that just as not all people are your favorite clients, not all referrals will be perfect. It is important to remember that when you give a recommendation, there are several reputations at stake. The person you are referring to, the person you are referring to AND yours.

Whenever you are working with people in a reference situation, it can feel like that old game that you may have played while sitting around the campfire. A person begins with a message and whispers that message into the ear of the person next to them. This message is carried down the line until the last person receives it and announces to the group what they think they have heard. Of course, it’s never what the message started out to be, and it’s usually so comical that what follows is hysterical laughter.

But it’s not so much fun when communication between you, the referrer, and the referral breaks down. The truth about this is that the most important thing is not whether or not something will go wrong in a baseline situation, but how you handle it.

“But I know everyone involved in this referral … what could possibly go wrong?”

I will give you an example.

Bob joined a networking group that encourages qualified and regular referrals. He joined this group because the others he visited fined people for not bringing a referral or were simply glorified brainstorming sessions for leaders.

Bob is happy in his group, but feels a bit of self-pressure to recommend because everyone else is giving and receiving referrals and he wants to “do his part.”

Every week in Bob’s networking group, Betty stands up and says that she coaches and is looking for solo entrepreneurs who want to take their business “to the next level” (whatever that means, more on that in another number). After a few meetings with Betty, Bob feels that he can trust her and understands who he is looking for as a client.

One day, Bob meets a client who is frustrated with the state of his business and wants to “expand” it. Excited Bob refers the client to Betty and waits very patiently for the huge “thank you” that he knows he will receive from both Betty and his client. So far so good, right?

This is where things go wrong:

Betty calls Bob two weeks later. “What about this reference you gave me? He was really difficult to contact. When I finally did, we met and all he wanted was a lot of free advice. I couldn’t answer some of his questions because I really didn’t know.” . “I specialize in Real Estate Professionals. So after I stopped answering his questions, he had the nerve to ask me out on a date! That really wasn’t a very good recommendation for me, Bob.”

(say “ay”)

A few minutes later, the customer calls. “Bob, I was interested in solving that problem I was complaining about, but the person you sent me was very insistent. He must have contacted me a dozen times. We set up a query, but I couldn’t get the kind of information I was looking for. . She kept telling me that we had to establish a formal relationship and sign a contract and everything. I kept telling her that I was not ready to do that, but that she was very insistent. See her again later, but she was offended and stormed out of the room. cafeteria. Fuck! “

Meanwhile, Bob is thinking, “Did these two people really know each other?

Here’s the deal. Neither the client nor Betty are very happy with the situation and most likely they are both upset with Bob on some level. If Bob offered either person another contact, both of them would probably be very, very cautious. It is impossible to know what really happened in the conversation; however, Bob could have avoided or prevented the situation by laying the proper foundation before making the referral.

Here are my tips for avoiding referral remorse:

1. Make sure the person you want to refer really wants to solve the problem. People love to complain. It’s one of those things people confuse complaining about with building intimacy or community with others. The problem is if you refer before asking the question, “Are you serious about solving that problem?” the person you referred them to is really stuck with a warm (or even cold) clue. It’s not so much fun trying to convince a referral that they really wanted to spend money with you. This does not elevate your image in the eyes of the referrer or referrer. If you are not sure if the person really wants the problem resolved, ask, “Can I ask Betty to call you to see if she can help you?” If there are any doubts, they are most likely not ready yet.

2. Be clear about what the professional you are referring to can actually do. Geez, it’s frustrating to get a referral for something I haven’t (and never have) done. “Well, I figured you did since you’re a writer.” First, have a conversation with the person if you are unsure. “Hey, I have a potential reference for you and I want to make sure this is something you’re looking for.” Then I describe the situation and let them decide if this fits. If not, don’t worry. I ask them if they know someone who does that if I don’t.

3. Remember that you are lending your reputation to both parties involved in the referral. If either party is unhappy, it could reflect negatively on you. On the contrary, if both parties are delighted, this is great for you and could lead to additional business. Stay informed at all times and make sure everything is going as it should.

The moral of the story is just because you may feel compelled or pressured to approve a recommendation in your networking group, this is almost never a good idea without first qualifying the situation. Your reputation is at stake and without a good reputation – your business life is much more difficult than it needs to be.

A quality reference is gold, but a sloppy one is much worse than no reference.

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