Networking is everything. More than ever before, opportunities often go to those who “know someone” or who are referred or  recommended by someone near the person making the final decisions.

In this environment, you’re probably asked for recommendations more frequently than before. Keep in mind that when you refer or recommend someone, their performance will have a direct impact on your own reputation.

When you refer someone, you are saying that this is someone who you would feel comfortable associating with and doing business with. When you actually recommend someone, you are going a step further, implying that this is a person who does such good work that you encourage your colleagues to do business with this person too.

LinkedIn RecommendationsIf the person you referred or recommended knocks everyone’s socks off then this will make you look great. But if your referral turns out to be unimpressive, unprofessional, or simply does not provide quality service, then this tarnishes your own reputation. “If John recommends this terrible writer, then I don’t think John knows what quality writing is, because this writer stinks!”

I often am asked to recommend a good writer, artist, programmer, or other professional. I never recommend someone just because I know him or her, or he is the sibling/child/spouse of someone I know. My colleagues and clients know that If I recommend someone, it means that I know the person’s work and actually do recommend it. This ensures that I have helped provide the people in my network with the best quality possible, but it also adds just a little extra shine to my own reputation.

The moral of the story: Only refer someone when you are willing to put your good name on the line. Don’t recommend someone unless you mean it, and don’t ask others to recommend you unless you have actually worked with them or they are otherwise familiar with your work. After all, it’s your own reputation that’s on the line.

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