I received an e-mail this year from a man named Robert and it contained an excellent question. The full message read:
Good morning, Dr. Misner.
I was wondering if you could answer a question for me.
When it comes to networking and being a connector, how do you handle requests from people you barely know (or don’t know at all) who ask you to give them the names of your contacts so they can connect with those people for their own ventures or projects?
For example, I received a message from a woman I met years ago via the Chamber of Commerce. She was laid off by the Chamber and now is attempting to find her niche. She sent me a message on LinkedIn that read:
“Hello and Happy summer! Do you know personally any life/disability agents or financial planners? I need to meet as many as possible in RVA to see if they can use our medical services at Portamedic to complete the medical portion of the insurance applications. Please forward any names to me if you do. Thank you.”
This is a great question, Robert.
When people contact me with requests like the one you’ve described, I refer them to my article on the VCP Process and explain to them that though I appreciate them reaching out to me, we’re not even at “visibility” yet. In order for me to feel comfortable referring them, I would need to build a relationship over time that gets us to strong “credibility.” When most people read the article, they move on to someone else because they think that networking is about “direct selling” and they don’t understand that it is about long-term relationship building.
How would you respond to this and what is your “policy” for giving referrals? Please leave your feedback in the comment section.