My business in the collections industry is built upon trust. Clients must trust me to recover their money without behaving in a manner that threatens their reputation.
That trust can lead to referrals of new business when their business contacts have unpaid invoices on their books or rent overdue from tenants.
Then there are the business networks that meet up and down the country - often for an early breakfast before their normal working day begins – and in a way many members of the public are never aware of, help to oil the wheels of small business and the professions in this country.
I spoke recently at a networking event about protecting your reputation when introductions are made through such networks and thought it worth sharing some of my thoughts here.
An introduction can reflect badly on the person who made the recommendation, if something goes wrong in the new relationship.
To minimise the risk I use an introduction grading to help manage things:
- I met Dave from Acme Ltd recently and what he does may be helpful to you. I’ve spoken to him a couple of times, but that’s all. I think it’s worth you having a chat.
- I’ve known Sarah from Beta Ltd for a while. I’ve not used her services, or know anyone who has, but her services could help you with the issue we discussed recently.
- You really should talk to Peter at Gamma Ltd. I’ve not used his services but I know a couple of others who have. He could be really useful in helping you with that problem we talked about.
- I’ve been using Kate from Delta Ltd as she’s helped me for years. I’m certain she can help you too.
So by explaining the level of relationship you have and how confident you are, you protect your reputation. But also, as you continue to communicate with people in your networks (and you need more than one to build a business), you will gradually move up the grading, as you become more confident about them and their ability to deliver.
I suppose the first question for anyone dealing with a new client is, can they afford to pay my bill?
And, beyond the grading of introductions that can give you some confidence in referred business, there are more formal ways of assessing the value of a new contact. For example, you can seek a credit report from SJ Collections before you accept their custom. For that, and other invaluable help, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.