I am sure you, like me, will have been asked many times “do you know anyone who…?” and if you network regularly you will probably know plenty of businesses to suggest. But before you say the first name that pops into your head, pause and think for a moment, because when you recommend someone it is important you are making the right recommendation for the person that is asking. (… and of course, the recommendation also reflects on you so it is important to get it right.)
So how do you decide who to recommend?
I use two criteria – the personal and the professional.
First of all, people I recommend have to be personable, easy to talk to, have a positive attitude and generally be the sort of people you want to spend time working with.
However just being “nice” is not enough I also need to have confidence in their professional capabilities – are they an expert and will they do an excellent job for the person who is asking for a recommendation?
The gold standard here is obviously someone whose services you have used yourself but if you don’t have this experience how do you know if someone is going to do a good job?
This is where time spent networking and getting to know people really pays off. Think about the people you know who give you confidence in their business and their ability to provide a good service. They will have an enthusiasm for their business and will be able to talk about what they do and most importantly, why, in great detail – they are experts in their field.
So, when I am asked for a recommendation I will stop, think for a moment and then it will be along the lines of:
Try xxx, they are really lovely and very helpful and either a) I have used them and they did a great job or b) I haven’t used them but they really seem to know what they are talking about; in fact, last time I met they were telling us about xxxx and I was impressed with what they knew / how they had gone about that.
Always be very clear as to whether you have or have not used the business you are recommending yourself.
One final point; there will often be several businesses you know who fulfil these criteria but this is where your networking knowledge can help you as the best recommendations are those where you can just see that two businesses / people will work really well together.
So, when you are networking remember to think about how you can develop your own reputation as being an “expert” – share your knowledge, give examples of things you do in your business at the micro level – really demonstrate your attention to detail, offer help and advice etc. Then your name will not only be the first to pop into someone’s mind when asked for a recommendation but they will be able to recommend you with confidence… because they regard you as an expert in your field.