‘Relationships are Irrelevant!’ Really?

Last week I wrote a blog called “Premature Solicitation,” which was about a situation where someone whom I had never met and didn’t know asked me to introduce him and his product to a very important connection of mine.

I shared this blog in a couple of venues, including one of my favorite online social networks.  A great dialog ensued with most people sharing their horror stories and frustrations about people who pounce on them at networking meetings asking for business even though they’ve never met the person before.

Every time I start to think this is an almost universal feeling of distaste for that approach to networking, I am brought back to reality by the minority of people who still think that this is actually a good networking technique.

To my astonishment, someone on the forum actually wrote:

“I don’t happen to believe that you need a relationship with the person you are asking first. What you must have is a compelling story or product/service that would genuinely benefit the referral . . .

The fact that you had not cultivated a relationship with the person has become irrelevant because, more importantly, you had been in a position to help [your contact] benefit from the introduction.  If it’s of genuine benefit to the person being referred, I don’t see the problem . . .

It’s about the benefit of what’s being referred rather than the relationship with the person asking for the referral . . .

Who am I to deny my contacts of something good?”

Wow.  What can I say?  The “relationship” is irrelevant! All you have to have is a good story, product or service and I owe it to any stranger (who says he or she has a good product) to introduce him or her to a good contact of mine!  Really? People really think this way!? According to this writer, it doesn’t matter if I actually know or trust the person wanting the business.  As long as the person has a good product (or so he says), I should refer that person because I would “deny” my contacts “something good!”

Networkers against Premature Solicitation unite!  We need to teach people that this is NOT a good way to network.  After reading my blog, a good friend of mine, TR Garland, started a Facebook page called: Facebook Users Who are Tired of Premature Solicitation (Oh My)! Take a look at it and sign up!

Also–tell me here in this blog what you think about the quotes above.  Do YOU want to get hit up by people at networking events this way?  Please tell me I’m not alone!  Networking is about relationship building–not “pouncing” on people because you think you have something good to sell them!

14 thoughts on “‘Relationships are Irrelevant!’ Really?

  1. Ivan,

    I would totally react in the way you did. What people need to understand is that when recommending somebody you are risking your reputation. So why would you recommend somebody you do not know, the risk is too high. We all know that reputations take a long time to build but seconds to destroy (ask Tiger Woods).

    If their product is that good then in time it will come around to us all through recommendation by somebody we trust or by working it our for ourselves. Either way we cannot break the “know like trust” rules. To do so would be a massive risk for us.

  2. Ivan,

    I couldn’t agree with you more! I think the attitude and beliefs expressed by the person who said relationships aren’t important epimozes the social media concepts. Follow me on Twitter, become a fan of my Facebook page, read my recommencations on LinkedIn, and voila!, we have a credible relationship! Now, don’t get me wrong. I value the benefits of social media, and even use them myself, however I don’t believe tweeting about the love I have for my cat, and posting my daily horoscope on Facebook create the type of relationships where we can adequately refer each other to our clients, friends and family.

    Ok, I’m getting down off of my soap box now, and headed to the ‘Facebook Users Who are Tired of Premature Solicitation (Oh My)!’ page!

    Mark Storey
    Referral Institute Columbus

  3. Only have a minute, but had to comment.

    1) The RELATIONSHIP is EVERYTHING. Products come and go. Relationships are forever.

    2) No product is for everybody. Assuming your product is needed without doing a needs’ analysis (asking questions and getting to know the other’s situation better) isn’t just bad practice – it is malpractice! It’s prognosis without diagnosis and should be thwarted quickly (as you have tried to do with this blogpost). It’s like somebody saying “You’ve got a problem. You’re missing something in your life. I’m here to tell you that this Whizzo drink will solve all your problems.” Wonder if they would act the same way if they could get sued for their bad behavior?

    3) In my book, I harp on “Communicate Your Solutions to Your Network” and discuss how to do that. Communicating your solutions to your network isn’t half as important as helping others achieve their goals. Give and give and give. Givers will gain of course, but don’t think of the gain while giving. Think of how to help while giving – how to take it to the next level. How can you give without knowing what the other needs? Want to perfect a couple of communication skills: work on asking great questions and listening first.

    Another great post, Ivan.


    America’s Most Referred Realtor(R) and author, The 7 Levels of Communication: Go from Relationships to Referrals.

  4. Hey Ivan –

    When I saw the words ‘Relationships are irrelevant’ at the top of your blog, I laughed out loud and thought maybe I had the wrong prescription glasses on! Punctuation and sarcasm notwithstanding, seeing those words next to your named seemed like an octopus out of water.

    Whoever would write to YOU, the International KING of Relationships, something that even hinted at the notion that relationships are irrelevant is clearly from another planet. I hope after today, we’ll all laugh at how irrelevant that person is.

    Great post. I’m going to share this and ‘Premature Solicitation’ with my BNI group.


    ~ Jonathan Flaks

  5. Ivan
    This feel like someone trying to make a virtue out of a handicap. I picture someone ill at ease in forming relationships (who, of course, really wants to) hitting on a technique to develop at least business relationships by making the interaction about quality of service, not him. (I assume the writer is a ‘him’, I can’t imagine a woman with that approach, and willing to broadcast it to the world.)

    I think the man has done a service because he has encapsulated, in extremis, a position held in much more dilute form by many people. It shows just how paramount forming the relationship is. It also illustrates that people have reservations about forming advocacy and referral relationships (in his case, fear, I would imagine) which need to be addressed if the relationships are to succeed.

  6. I can’t imagine placing more value on what is being referred than the person being referred. I refer people not products and services. If someone wants a product/service referral… they can go online or to the phone book. If they want someone they can trust to deliver value…. they can ask me for a referral to a person who will take great care of them.

    Thanks for sharing “impersonal” perspective… I wouldn’t have thought of it myself 😉

  7. I admit that had to read your entry a half dozen times before I could understand what was going on in the “premature solicitor” mind. Professional sales people know that the first element that is actually passed in a referral is the reputation (trust) for the person doing the referring. If you don’t trust me, you won’t even consider my offering. Second to that is understanding if I (or my contact) actually have any need or desire for the product or service being offered. (Note: So far we haven’t even mentioned the actual product or service to the potential client.)

    Once the first two components (trust and need) are established, then, and only then, do I have the right to present my offerings as a solution. If I miss the first two points, the rest of the conversation is useless. Having a solid relationship with someone is the strongest possible bond of trust.

  8. Hi Ivan:
    Regarding “Relationships are Irrelevant!’ Really?”

    Without seeing the persons entire comment I can’t help but feel that this person has missed their own statement that they are giving a referral to something they have built a relationship with. If they know that the product/service is so good that it is worth sharing then they had to build a relationship with the product or service and the company that stands behind it. No one just blindly pushes something that they know nothing about – it would make anyone look incompetent if they were wrong.

    So if this person believes so strongly in their relationship with a product or service then they are being hypocritical about the importance of the relationship they bring with that product or service. I bet they would find that their best clients are people that have grown to know and trust them.

    I am hoping that we have misunderstood this person’s intent. From experience I would say that this attitude represents a very small minority of people at a networking event. -Thankfully-

  9. Hi Ivan

    A very interesting blog post and may I say “SO TRUE”…as like you I’ve been inundated with such requests, especially on the Social Networking sites.

    In our book, we must have repeatedly mentioned that its all about RELATIONSHIPS…in fact, we have a diagram called Social Media Success Parthenon and as you might have rightly guessed, the foundation is labeled as “Building Relationship”

    I guess, this “premature solicitation” is a result of the current prevailing “get rich quick” mindset and have kinda’ forgotten the essence of networking as described by the popular quote “People do business with people they know, like & trust”

    It makes me wonder, how many of these short-sighted business people actually “win” …maybe they do have some success, but the success must be short term and short lived.

    Thanks for sharing your views, Ivan and good on Todd for starting a “much needed” group on Facebook.

    Have a great weekend ahead

  10. Hi Ivan, I can confirm that the person will not succeed in his life. He doesn’t seem to understand that the reason people develop compelling stories or product/service is to develop relationship as well.

    Relationship doesn’t limit to face to face meeting between two human beings, but it happens as well from products/services to human beings.

    Develop compelling stories to build trust (relationship).

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