14 Rules of Business Referral Etiquette|
by David & Lorrie Goldsmith
One of the key roles of management is to build business through relationships. A common way to build relationships is through referrals: with, for and through banks, attorneys, employees, peers, and anyone else who has something that someone else wants or needs. The better you are at managing the referral, the better off you and those in your organization will be. Unfortunately, even though most referrals start with good intentions, they're conducted haphazardly and don't yield the results people expect. It's often the reason that referrals are not offered. Who wants to be burned? The tips in this article should help you control the outcomes and get what you want.
Everyone has been embarrassed by their association with another person at one time or another. How about that cousin you wouldn't want anyone to know about? But what happens when the embarrassment happens in a business situation: more specifically, when you refer one person to another and one of those parties is unprofessional or just plain screws up? Making a bad connection could cost you money or something more valuable and much harder to recoup-your reputation.
We once stepped into an awkward situation when we referred a business peer, seeking a specific product, to one of our clients, who just so happened to offer that very product. We thought we were doing a good thing, a win-win-win thing…until we received a phone call from our client explaining that the referred person made a vulgar offer to a woman on the client's staff when she said she couldn't go any lower on her price. We were shocked. Our client ended the conversation with, "I'm not sure what to do, but what he [the business peer] did was disrespectful to my staff and to you. I'm going to let you handle this." The outcome was hardly the one we were shooting for. All we could do was apologize and hope our reputation didn't take too big a hit.
The referral is part of Business 101, and it's a valuable way to extend your business connections. Typical referrals involve three parties: the person who wants something, the person who has something to give, and the person who connects the two. Sounds simple and clean…but as our bad experience shows, sometimes things get messy. So what can you do to facilitate successful referrals? That depends on which of the three roles you're playing. Here they are.
The person who wants something. If someone connects you to another party, remember to:
Copyright David and Lorrie Goldsmith. All Rights Reserved.
David and Lorrie Goldsmith are managing partners of their own consulting group. Their firm offers consulting and speaking services internationally. David was named by Successful Meetings Magazine as one of the "26 Hottest Speakers in the Industry." Jeff Gitomer say’s "David Goldsmith is unique in that he can see a 30,000 feet view of business and then delivers the hand-to-hand tools for combat."
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