We work so hard to defend and advance our reputation.
No matter what you do, it precedes you, as it is said, especially when you refer a trusted colleague. That means that colleague trusts you too.
And I do too.
So when a marketing colleague referred someone to me as one of the “best in her field,” I had high expectations.
He referred her, so his reputation was on the line. He had stuck his neck out to me and for her.
Her reputation was not yet in focus, until I could assess her. So I invested the time to review her LinkedIn profile to be sure she was really right.
She checked out. A few common second level connections with good recommendations, etc., Samples of her work. You know, all the stuff I look for.
The next step was an introductory phone call. It went OK, with the puffery about how busy she was and how she would try to “fit” me in.
Hmmm. Is that a sign of impending trouble?
A proposal was to follow the next week.
You know where this is going…
No contact at all, as if the call had never happened.
An email from me to prod her. No reply.
Luckily, I did not connect to her on LinkedIn after the call. I always wait, anticipating she would be apologetic but provide a great proposal. Then I would have my heart-to-heart: “I don’t operate this way of radio silence with my clients and I don’t expect to be handled that way either. Are we on the same page or not?”
So in the stream of my usual contact with the referrer, he asked how it was going with her.
So I told him. He seemed surprised. But not enough to keep him from telling me “No more referrals to her.” And not enough to have fallen out checking with her on his referring her to me.
So that revealed a few things:
- his referrals are not highest quality if he had to admit that to me
- thus his reputation is now tarnished
- as a referral, she is a non-start for me even if she eventually realizes she dropped the ball, worse than tarnished
- my needs are still not met though I maintain my reputation that I acted honorably and professionally
- and finally, connections and recommendations on LinkedIn are only as good as the reputation of the person showing them and writing them, respectively (I relied on the others to honestly evaluate her before I started this process).
If you get a referral from me, it’s sterling.
As in highest quality and really shiny, as it directly reflects on me.
No tarnish tolerated.