Ways to distinguish yourself #140 – Watch who you refer

Referrals happen almost on a daily basis. You are participating in the referral game either as a receiver of a referral or as a giver of a referral. The referral can be as simple as what movie to watch this weekend or which M&A attorney to use for a possible M&A transaction in the near future. With our busy schedules, it is possible that we may not give a request for referral that kind of attention that it truly deserves.

Imagine a simple scenario. You are lost in a new city and you ask for directions and the person who gives you the directions gives you incorrect information. You believe him and after some time realize that you wasted a lot of time. You get annoyed. Depending on how important it was to get to your place at the right time, the annoyance level will vary. If you were going there for an interview and because of the wrong directions you blew it, you may almost not forgive the person giving the wrong directions. In fact, you think and wish that the person said he didn’t know the information. That way you could have asked someone else.

Referrals are similar. Getting a wrong referral can mean a huge cost as there is an opportunity cost involved going down in the wrong direction. When someone asks you for a referral, they typically do so because of the trust they have in you. Give them a wrong referral and there is a dent on the trust level. Repeat the stupidity again and you probably won’t get a request for another referral from the same person. When you refer someone, it is important to note that:

a) your reputation is on line and
b) the level of trust that that person has placed on you is on line

Before you jump and provide a referral as soon as you get a request, think carefully for a few seconds and ensure that whenever you refer someone both parties will benefit and there is a possibility of a win-win. You can guarantee that every time but it is absolutely important that you do your best to get to that scenario.

Note: It is DEFINITELY better to say that you don’t have a referral (if you don’t) rather than giving a wrong referral. After all nobody will have all the answers to everything 🙂