I Would Love To Refer You To My Connections, But…

© 2010 Vinny Ribas

I am a firm believer that connections are king, which is why I started Indie Connect. With the right people helping, guiding, opening doors etc. all things are possible.  I have worked hard to become a ‘master networker.’ And now that I am relatively well connected, nothing gives me more pleasure than to introduce two other people to each other and watch a true and/or profitable relationship develop.  I am well aware that every time I do this I am putting my reputation with both parties on the line. But if I have confidence in the people I am referring, I have no problem taking that chance. After all, making a great connection for someone else is my chance to shine as well!

Unfortunately, there are many times when I could make a great introduction for someone, but something holds me back–things that I either know from first hand experience or find out from reliable sources (I try not to jump to conclusions and always do my research). Here are some of the reasons that I may think twice before helping you with an introduction, even though I am confident that I have an ideal match for you.[private_member]

  • You’re not ready. You need to have an accurate assessment of yourself and the next steps in your career path. You may not be as ready for my contacts as you think you are. Be sure that you’re not jumping the gun and getting ahead of yourself. Of course, this might be a judgment call on my part. If you disagree with me, think about things you can do in a professional manner to prove to me that you are ready.
  • You haven’t given me a good enough reason.  Saying ‘he would be a good person to know’ isn’t enough to compel me to recommend he give up some of his valuable time to meet with you.
  • I don’t know you well enough. I need to get to know someone so I can make an accurate assessment of all of the areas mentioned in this article. Give me time to learn more about you.
  • You haven’t proven yourself. We may have known each other for a while, but I just haven’t gotten the impression that you would know how to make the most out of a top-level connection. It doesn’t mean you’re not capable or competent; only that I haven’t seen evidence of it in our dealings so far.
  • You are unreliable or untrustworthy. You don’t always do what you say you are going to do. Maybe you exaggerate about the things you say you can do. Your inability to come through would reflect directly on my credibility. You need to establish your reputation to me as a reliable professional.
  • You’re unprofessional. This could come out in many different ways. Maybe your language is crude. Maybe you don’t show up for appointments or gigs on time, or at all. It could be that you don’t return phone calls or emails in a timely manner. Whatever it is, it would be embarrassing for me to introduce you to someone who is a complete professional. Once again, you need to prove to me that you can and will act professionally.
  • You have a bad or shaky reputation. True or not, this may be all I have to go by. I know this is a tough one to overcome. You may have made some bad mistakes that are now coming back to haunt you even though you’ve changed. Some people may have complained about you online. It may be that you hang with a less-than-reputable crowd and you are just guilty by association. Protect your reputation at all costs. If the rumors are false, show me evidence, or take the time and make the effort to prove to me that the reputation is totally undeserved.
  • You have a poor online presence. You may have a less-than-professional looking website or social network sites. Maybe the pictures are poor, the bio has misspellings, it’s out of date, or it just looks like it is owned by an amateur. Maybe you don’t have any online presence at all. If I refer you to someone, chances are the first thing they are going to do is ask where they can find you online. Please be sure that your online presence reflects your brand, your attitude, your talent, your professionalism and your personality well.
  • You have poor online etiquette. You may be less-than-professional with your online status updates, tweets etc. Maybe your language is foul, you’re always complaining or you send out way too many. Maybe your emails are 5 paragraphs longer than they need to be or you email way too often. If I refer you to someone, I need to know that your professionalism carries through to every touch point you will have with him or her.
  • You don’t use email, IM or other basic technologies. These days it is virtually impossible to converse only by phone, physical letters or with in-person meetings. If my contact is even somewhat tech-savvy, I need to know that you are too.
  • You’re not knowledeable about the industry. You may have great talent or high-level skills, but if you can’t communicate seriously on the level that the person I would refer you to does, I just can’t make the call. Of course, an exception to this would be if I were introducing you to someone because they can help you gain the education you need. Show me that are a student of the industry and know what you’re talking about.
  • Your personal appearance is poor. There is something about your personal appearance that is either unprofessional or just less than appealing. It may be the clothes you wear, excessive perfume, the fact that your hair is always messy or any number of other things. If you want to be taken seriously, you need to dress the part.
  • You have a poor attitude. If you are negative, always unhappy, constantly complaining, always unsatisfied or just depressed all of the time, I will find it hard be around you very much. And if I don’t want to be around you, why would I subject a friend or colleague to that?
  • You have overbearing political or religious views. I would never let your personal beliefs and views affect my decision to refer you to someone. However, if all you do is preach and complain, I will never refer you to anyone. I was recently introduced to the president of a record company. When I asked how he was doing, he said, ‘I’d be a lot better if we had a different President.” Whether I agreed with him or not is not the point. The fact that he threw it in my face before he even said hello turned me off immediately. I didn’t hear a word he said from that point on.
  • You are unteachable. If you believe that you already know it all, or don’t see any reason to change or improve, no amount of contacts, regardless of the level they are at, will help you. Prove to me that you are going to approach my connection with an open, teachable and grateful spirit.
  • You’re not a good match. You may believe that my contacts are exactly who you need to know, but I might not think so. Maybe I know something that you don’t that I can’t divulge. I have to be 110% confident that the match I make will be a win-win for everyone. Please don’t beg. Instead, present me with a plausible, professional argument.
  • You’re too pushy. The decision to make a connection needs to be mine alone. I refuse to be pressured, forced, intimidated, blackmailed or shamed into an introduction. If I offered and forgot, feel free to remind me politely. I will make it right. If you know that I know someone you want to meet, ask me politely to make the introduction. Give me time to make a decision.
  • It’s all about you. If you come off as selfish, attention grabbing, egotistical or self-centered, I won’t help you. You need to prove to me that you deserve my help by your willingness to help others. Be a giver first. When I make an introduction, I need to know that it will be a win-win situation for both parties. That means that you are willing to help my contact just as much as he or she is willing help you.
  • The timing is wrong. It might be that I ask my connection if they would like to speak to you, and they say not now for whatever reason. Maybe they are going through personal issues or will be on the road for a while. Please don’t pressure me if I say we need to wait a few weeks or months.

Keep in mind that I respect both you and my contacts, and don’t want to waste either of your time. Also, know that if they are very high level, I am going to be extra selective as to who I refer to them. I will only make that call if the person I am referring is as close to a perfect fit as I could find. If I don’t want to make a particular introduction for you, you can certainly ask me why. However, if you ask, please be prepared to receive my honest answer. Then it is up to you to either accept it and move on, or find a professional way to prove me wrong and/or change my mind. And nothing would make me happier than to have you succeed at that!