Referral Credibility: A Note for the Benevolent Networker
At a networking event, you just met a professional whose company can provide some service to your company. Listening attentively to her informal pitch, you establish that your new acquaintance seems to be a potential help for your company. After a 5-minute conversation, she asks you to tell your boss about her and her company. What do you do?
Some of us act immaturely because of the spark of the moment, possibly due to the fact of being excited that we can be the ones responsible for connecting and starting that potential business relationship. Plus, it certainly would pass the message to our bosses and company that we have in mind our company’s progression and succession. I say immaturely, however, because we start acting in favor of the self and of that new acquaintance as soon as possible. We send a quick email to our boss, such as the following:
“Title: Possible Service Provider
I just met Sarah at the ABC Networking Event and thought she would be somewhat of a help to our XYZ project coming up in the summer. Her phone is xxx.xxx.xxxx and her email is email@example.com. I’ll see you Monday.
Although we have the best and most innocent of intentions, we terribly impact our Referral Credibility.
From the example above, we failed at many points. We didn’t look into Sarah’s company. We didn’t look into some reviews on her company. We didn’t mention what Sarah does and is responsible for. We didn’t make the specific connection between what Sarah’s company does and how its service can be useful to our company or project.
Instead, prior to passing along a possible referral, we should take the time to do our research on what the company does and, if necessary, do a quick research on the employee. After all is said and done, then if applicable, we not only can, but should send our boss an email with the pertinent message. Here is a better example:
“Title: Possible Business Relationship for our XYZ Project
I just met Sarah at the ABC Networking Event. She is the VP of Marketing at 777 Company. After carrying a brief conversation with her, I did some research on her company and her. Through some reviews over the web and navigation on their website, I found that they are a potential effective fit to our XYZ project coming up in the summer as we plan to launch it to the market by late fall. In case you seem this as useful as I do, her company’s website is www.company.com. Sarah’s direct phone number line is xxx.xxx.xxxx and her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’ll see you Monday. Respectfully,
When you make a referral, no matter your level of relationship with that referral, you are essentially being linked to that referral. Whether you want it or not, whether you agree or not, they are now representing you. Once in a blue moon you might be well represented. Unfortunately the reality is that in most cases we are doing ourselves a disservice by such a referral. Would you trust this quasi-stranger to represent you to your boss? I’d think most of us would answer “no” to this illuminating question.