Not that long ago my son told the world that his mom “knows more people than a mob boss”!  We all laughed, but the truth of that statement was not lost on me. I have spent the past 25+ years building relationships and trying not to burn bridges. For a hot head in recovery, that hasn’t always been the easiest task.

Relationships: We all have our close friends we hang out with on the back deck. There are those professional relationships that develop that are more than just colleagues but not quite that confident of our inner circle. Then there are those relationships that are purely professional and finally the professional acquaintance relationship.

Why did I take the time to define relationships? Because every relationship starts with an introduction. Over time, with investment and mutual attention, a relationship can progress thru these stages. Admittedly, not all relationships will progress, and that is ok.  Each relationship has its’ place.

In business, we need to take the time to build relationships with our clients, vendors, media, and anyone else in between. Building relationships is a daily task and should be done with deliberate and intentional steps. Many times we think we have to become “friends” before we start doing business. The reality is that is only true some of the time. Most of the time we conduct business out of necessity, have an experience and begin building a relationship out of that experience.

Endorsements: There are times when we have the need for professional help and we truly don’t know anyone in that field. Hopefully, that is few and far between. It would always be my hope that we would have a relationship before we have a need, but it just isn’t realistic. So, we get input from people we Do have relationships with already. The larger issue is understanding the difference between a referral and an endorsement.

When I give an endorsement, I am lending that person or business MY established relationship. This is important for both the person receiving the endorsement and the company/person I am endorsing to understand and value.I would likely say something like “Give Suzie Q a call at XXX, be sure to tell her I sent you, she will take great care of you”. I will almost always do an introduction of some sort as well.

For the person receiving the endorsement- they are trusting in me to lead them to someone who will solve their problem in an honorable fashion, with integrity, and with excellence. I expect they will receive it. I also expect them to let me know about their experience from the endorsement.

For the company or person I am endorsing, please know this is a BIG DEAL. I am trusting you to protect my integrity and to deliver your very best to the person I send your way, even if you can’t help them. Know that not delivering and burning the endorsement will speak volumes on its own, without a word being spoken.

Referrals:  I have met and know a lot of people. Yes, my son was joking when he said I know more people that a mob boss, but the implication that I am well connected is valid. That doesn’t mean I endorse all of the people I know. Sometimes, people need a product or a service and I may not have a relationship that has evolved to that point.  This is where I give referrals. I have met them. I have interacted with them but they are really still in that professional acquaintance category. I would likely say something like “Here are a couple of XXX you could look into”.

What happens if I withdraw an endorsement or referral?  It would be logical to infer that there was a significant reason for withdrawing the endorsement or referral. Or what if I never endorse their company or send a referral their way. That in and of itself would be a huge indicator of something. You may never know the details, but you have to ask yourself, why would you want to know?  That would typically come after being burned and no one has time for that.

What is your “policy” on referrals and endorsements?  Are you building relationships right now that you many not need for a long time or maybe ever?  Relationships and credibility come with repeated experiences and time.  There are no shortcuts on it.