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When Giving a Referral Can Ruin Your Reputation

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 3/11/2015 Catriona Pollard

How many times a day do you recommend an experience, service or person? I know I recommend my experiences all the time - whether it's a movie, a new cafe or a service such as a copywriter.
Have you ever thought about how that recommendation or referral influences how you are perceived? Think about it. You're asking to be trusted enough to suggest an experience or service to a business contact or friend.
No doubt giving a good referral will enhance your relationship, but a bad one will damage it. If the person you refer does a bad job, it's your reputation that's impacted.
I remember a time when I was looking for IT services, and I received a recommendation. After several sales calls, I finally signed with them. Then the nightmare started. I won't go into details, but the fact that their "Customer Success Manager" (the most ironic title ever!) never ever called me back says it all.
The experience impacted how I thought about the person who referred me. They put me into a difficult situation, and it changed how I thought about their service and level of work. I certainly never asked them for a referral again.
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Here are a couple of things to think about before you refer someone.
Get to know them
Make sure you take the time to get to know the people you're referring. What type of clients do they work with? Make sure they have the same level of service and integrity as you.
Understand that referrals are transferred trust situations, so make sure you trust the person you are referring as much as you trust yourself or your organisation.
Declare kickbacks
It's important to declare referral kickbacks or fees. In fact, you legally have to when you're on-selling through direct marketing.
Qualify the referral
If you have never used the person you are referring, but heard great things about them, then state that. In this case you are being helpful by suggesting someone, and also protecting your reputation.
We spend so much time and effort to build and maintain our reputation - and we have to, as it's essential for business. Why throw it away on someone who doesn't deserve it? Every referral is your hard-won reputation at stake.
About the author
Catriona Pollard is the author of From Unknown To Expert, a step by step framework designed to help entrepreneurs develop effective PR and social media strategies to become recognised as influencers in their field.
Catriona is also the director of CP Communications, which merges traditional PR tactics with cutting-edge social media strategies that engage consumers as well as business.
Follow Catriona:
Twitter: @catrionapollard
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