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You’ve probably experienced this: you’re working on a big project, facing a challenge, or simply in need of specific expertise. You need help and don’t know where to turn. So you reach out to a friend or colleague for advice on what to do.  She offers what sounds like a hearty recommendation.

“Oh,” she says, sounding supremely confident. “You need to call So-and-So.”

Courtesy of

Courtesy of

So you do, thinking it will be a great fit; that the challenge will be solved with great results.  Only that’s not how things turn out. Because, truth be told, it wasn’t a great fit. Not even close.  Worst case, you may have ended up with an even bigger disaster on your hands because you believed in the person making the recommendation — and didn’t bother to do your own due diligence.

Sound familiar?

It might have been the hairstylist who gave you the Cut-and-Color from Hell and talked your ear off about her deadbeat ex-husband the entire time; the speaker who totally bombed or offended the audience with an unsavory joke or stupid role-playing exercise at the event you worked so hard to produce; the attorney who you were led to believe could win your case, but in reality bungled things so badly you’re in even worse trouble now than before you started (plus broke from all the bills); or the babysitter who spent most of her time eating you out of house and home, staring at her smartphone playing Candy Crush, snooping through your drawers, and allowing your kids to run wild and stay up late eating cupcakes and Cheetos.

If you can’t relate to any of those, certainly you can insert your own disaster here:___________________________________.

I know I can. Makes me wince when I think about being on either side of that situation. The Careless Causer of Referral Madness or the Crazed Victim.

Want to avoid these terrifying scenarios?  Here are a few easy, but important rules:

  1. Know the difference between a resource, a referral, and a recommendation. A resource is an idea and needs to come with a very clear disclaimer. As in, “I’ve heard of this person/company, but I don’t know anything about them / have never tried them myself. So be sure to check them out thoroughly before you hire  them.”  If you give a referral, it means you know something about the person or company and have possibly even used them yourself with good results. A recommendation is the highest honor; a testimonial; an endorsement. You have used the person or company yourself with excellent results and you are certain others have done the same.  See the difference?  Certainly you can’t expect result that are 100% perfect 100% of the time — because humans are humans. But knowing the differences here can help ensure a better success rate.
  2. Don’t confuse the three.
  3. Understand that any resource, referral, or recommendation reflects on you and affects your reputation. As I write in my book, The Intentional Networker : “Be sure before you refer.” When things go well, everyone wins. When they don’t everyone loses. A little caution and (ahem) intentionality can go a long way here. (Chapter 8, by the way, is loaded with tips on how to offer stellar referrals and recommendations, which in turn helps you attract them.  Yes! Who doesn’t want that?)
  4. Follow a process, such this suggested protocol for referrals from one of my previous posts.
  5. Don’t be jaded or misguided by likability or friendship.  Yes, we do business with people we like and we want to help out our friends. But we also have to trust they are going to do a great job. Don’t let the fact that someone is your best buddy be the only reason you refer him.  Thoughts on that here.

What would you add to this list as rules for ensuring that the resources, referrals, and recommendations you share (or are given to you) have a better chance of creating positive results for all?
Ready to help your team or audiences become more savvy and successful Intentional Networkers? Want to learn how to Live, Work & Connect at a Higher Level(tm) as your build a more powerful resource network? Interested in learning more about my coaching, consulting, speaking and workshop facilitation services?  Want to read what my clients have to say about me?  Contact me at patti[at]intentionalnetworker[dot]com today or click here: