Ways to distinguish yourself #140 – Watch who you refer

Ways to distinguish yourself #140 – Watch who you refer

By Rajesh Setty on Thu 15 Jun 2006, 12:07 AM – 4 Comments

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 :)


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4 Comments so far, Add Yours

Anonymous  on June 15th, 2006

This article takes your “distinguish” series to a new level. While I haven’t read every post, I do read the titles and abstracts. Touching on trusted relationship building and similar “power” topics may attract a new audience for your work, from the financial, legal and governance worlds. Also, you approach the subject from several angles in a short post, allowing people an opportunity to absorb the message as a statement, an example, or a postscript summary. I wish I could express myself so clearly and effectively. Nice work!

Passion, People and Principles  on September 4th, 2007

The September Carnival of Trust…

Then there is Rajesh Setty’s advice in his ongoing series on “How to Distinguish Yourself” The latest in his advice series is Watch Who You Refer….

Charles H. Green  on September 4th, 2007

Congrats on the Carnival of Trust selection. I was one who was not familiar with your series, so am glad Maister has highlighted you.

Best wishes,

Charlie Green

Alastair Revell  on September 16th, 2007

I agree with what you say.

It comes down to being grounded in honesty and integrity. I think “experts” (ie: anyone whose advice is sought) face an important challenge when asked for a referral (or in more general cases, an opinion). They have three stark choices: (a) they can suggest something – anything to make out that they know something; (b) they actually can impart something useful; or (c) they can be honest and maintain their integrity – and simply say they don’t know.

I think for most people, except genuine experts, the last choice (c) is by far the most difficult option, and in my experience clearly delineates between the real experts and the would-be experts.

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