Rikki, taking care of our family.

“There is no advertisement as powerful as a positive reputation traveling fast.”
~ Brian Koslow

“That’s where they wanted to bury George Washington.”

That was Rikki Miller, our tour guide and staff person for Debbie Dingell, our Congressional Representative. In preparing for a family trip to Washington, D.C., my wife had contacted their office to ask about a group tour of the Capitol Building for the family. Instead, Rikki offered to take us on a private tour herself.

I will admit to being a bit cynical. I figured we would get fifteen minutes before we got the brush-off. What a shocking and wonderful surprise when Rikki devoted almost two hours to the four of us. She regaled us with stories of American history (a passion of hers), told legends about the buildings and statues, and spent more than a little time talking with the girls about Harry Potter and American Girl dolls.

Rikki impressed us. Just as important, though, was what her attention to us did for Congresswoman Dingell’s reputation. Every moment she spent, every consideration she showed, every story she told, lifted, by reflection, her employer’s character in our eyes. If Rikki had been impatient with the children or had tried to get rid of us at the first opportunity, it would have done the exact opposite.

This is the reason we have to be so careful about our own recommendations in the world of networking. Those whom we refer carry our good name with them wherever they go. If they do an exemplary job, we look good by association. If they show a lack of care, that neglect, too, shows as a stain on our reputation.

Here are some questions to ask yourself before you lend someone your good name:

  1. Can they do the job? If you don’t know, then you probably don’t know them well enough to refer them. If you actually know that they can’t do the job, then why would you refer them at all?
  2. Do they make a good first impression? It may not be fair (though I would argue it), but they not only need to be professional, but they also need to appear professional.
  3. Would you recommend them to a close friend or family member? If not, then your brain is trying to tell you something.
  4. Would they exceed expectations? This is more than the work. This is about communications, follow-up, materials — anything that affects the customer experience in any way. Remember, you want the referral recipient saying “Wow!”
  5. Do they understand they represent you? Ultimately, it all comes down to this. If they get it, then all of the other questions should fall into line.

Rikki met all these questions today with a resounding “Yes!” Congresswoman Dingell has chosen an amazing representative for her good name in our family. Do those you send out in your name with a referral or recommendation lift you up or let you down?

I hope for your sake, they are all like Rikki.