Over the last few years, through networking and social media I have had the good fortune to meet a number of smart, interesting marketing professionals, around Indy and around the world.  One of the most talented I have met recently is Michael Reynolds, President & CEO of SpinWeb. SpinWeb is an interactive agency delivering marketing, branding, and design solutions to smart businesses and non-profits that would like to utilize the Internet to grow and flourish.

On the surface, I guess you might think we are competitors.  We offer similar services, to similar clients.  But Indy isn’t that small and there  is room for lots of good work.   Michael and the team at SpinWeb do good work.

I put out a call recently for guest bloggers and Micheal responded.  Today I am really excited to share his post.

Don’t Attach Strings To Your Referrals

I recently had a conversation with a client in which we were going over some ideas for some changes to his company’s web site. When we got to the cost portion of the discussion, it became apparent that he was hoping to avoid having to pay much for the updates (which were significant).

As the conversation continued, he then turned the topic to a new service that his company was considering using to offer new services to his clients. It looked interesting and he asked if I would be interested in exploring the service as a possible product offering for my clients, as well. I said that I would be interested and thanked him for the referral. I was truly grateful and was indeed interested in learning more about a product that might benefit my clients.

Then came the catch. After I thanked him for the referral, he proceeded to ask me if I thought it was a valuable referral. He then said that he was trying to help me out and that he hoped that this referral would have some value to me as we discussed pricing for his web site updates. Basically, he was attempted to guilt me into offering him a discount as a result of his referral to a potential vendor.

This is the wrong way to give a referral. For one thing, this was a referral to a vendor, not a potential client (which would have been more valuable). More importantly, all the wind was sucked out of the referral because of the strings attached to it and the expectation of a discount as a result. I no longer had an interest in pursuing it and I will likely decline to accept future referrals from this person. Finally, I am not likely to make referrals to him now because I feel that I would be participating in a game in which we are keeping score. Instead of strengthening our relationship, this interaction damaged it.

I am always making an effort to give referrals to my clients, vendors, and networking partners because I genuinely want to help them. I have no interest in discounts, kickbacks, or compensation for giving referrals to people that I respect. If I do receive compensation, I would consider it a pleasant surprise but I certainly do not ask for it.

When giving referrals, be sure there are no strings attached. By being genuine, authentic, and generous, you will build a stronger network and enjoy greater success with your referral partners.