Monday, September 9, 2013

Affiliation Matters

In business and in life, who you associate with matters a GREAT deal. To put it in mob terms, introducing someone to the wrong person can get you WHACKED! Maybe not actually killed, but it can kill your business and your reputation, if you're not careful.

As a result of this belief, I am EXTREMELY careful about who I do business with. A prime example is my previous post. The person who taught me all those business lessons, which I passed on to you, was a referral from someone else. YIKES!

Last week, I was contacted by an extremely persistent business-owner. He started with a generic invitation to connect on LinkedIn - I really dislike those, you should take a couple moments to actually send a message to the person you want to connect with. He also completed my consultation request from my website and asked me to contact him. I knew something was a bit off, so I responded with an email asking if he was looking for a Lifestyle Manager. He didn't reply. Instead, he called me. He said that he has this service that he is sure my clients could benefit from using. He's so sure, in fact, that he's willing to give me money for every client I refer to his business.


What people need to understand, especially about what I do, is that trust is EVERYTHING. My clients trust me. They depend on me to be true and authentic with what I do for them. Referring them to some "great service" that I know NOTHING about, simply for the money I would get from the referral is a breech of that trust. Additionally, you have to ask this question, "Is the money I get as a kick-back going to outweigh the long-term contract with the client?" If the answer is no, don't do it.

I believe that recommendations should be organic, especially if you're being authentic and people are to trust you. If you personally do business with a company and you've had great results from doing so, then, of course, you would want to spread the word about how great they are. If they give you something for being loyal and referring people, that's an added bonus, but it should NEVER be your sole motivation.

A few years ago, a person I trusted referred me to a copywriter to write the content for my website at the time. BIGGEST. MISTAKE. EVER! The guy basically took my money and disappeared. He didn't mean any of the promised deadlines. He didn't respond to any communication requests. He wouldn't give me a refund before he "finished the project" and when he did finally give me the copy, it was completely off the mark. I had to go through hell and high water to get my money back, but what I did come to learn was that I wasn't the first person he had done this too. There were many people out there like me and apparently none of them had come forward until I did. The lady who made the referral said it was the worst mistake of her career. So many people had contacted her to tell her how terrible their experience was and astonishingly, many of those people preferred to just forget the whole thing instead of request a refund.

Here are your takeaways:

  • The wrong affiliation can cause irreparable damage.
  • If you don't know/like/trust what you're referring, don't do it.
  • If you're only referring for the kick-back money, you're not being authentic. (Even though some people choose to put a disclaimer on the communication "I'm being paid to tell you this product is great" it's still inauthentic)

I personally don't think it's ever worth the risk, but that's for you to decide. Who you affiliate with MATTERS!