If you have been in sales on any level the past few years you are well aware of the networking groups popping up all over the city: mastermind groups, weekly meetings of international groups charging $500 annually, small groups meeting twice a month with no fee or weekly groups with nominal fees and monthly socials…the list goes on and on. If you sign up for one on a popular website you will receive suggestions of others across the city until you stop paying attention. Some are better worth the time than others, even the local chambers of commerce offer networking opportunities.
So what is the objective? Well, it is to share your company information with others who can and may refer you and you do the same; it is truly “I scratch your back if you scratch mine” mentality for some people while others it is a genuine “I want to help them grow their business so I will make a referral.” But what happens when a good referral goes bad?
Sometimes there are personality conflicts between the two, sometimes there is downright dishonesty and other times it be just bad timing. Recently, a trusted friend (whom I met while networking) referred a client to me and it simply did not work out and there were conversations I am not proud of BUT the feeling was mutual and it would have ended one way or another; when it did, I was left feeling awful for a bit about the fact it was a referral and tiptoe around the subject and also feel like I wasn’t given the proper opportunity to shine, but why open dry scabs? Then there is the flipside when I chose to work with a referred business and they have totally botched the relationship and again, I am not going to be the one to bring it up.
So who is the loser in these situations, the person who made the referral or the person losing the business; I tend to say the ladder. It isn’t common to have a friendship with these referrals outside of networking and until you truly know someone who has worked with a “trusted referral”, you take them at their word. It is a tough situation but there is no need to make it worse by pleading your case when the past is the past and if there are no damages it may be best to just put the past behind you. Sure, you may never get another referral from them again but if the referral wasn’t a good fit, do you really want it anyway?