We might not realise that sometimes our reputation is affected by things that can be linked to us , including endorsements, referrals and recommendations that we have given. If you say something is good, someone can be trusted and somebody will do a good job and things turn out otherwise, people might question your judgement. The referrals, recommendations and endorsement we make can give insight into our own character, judgement and values. Of course what we have experienced cannot be changed while events in the future may lie outside our control.
No clearer is this than in the corporate world where companies are very quick to make statements in the media or take appropriate action if they believe that their brand has been tarnished by association with an individual, product or other company.
Just as our reputation can be enhanced by the recommendations we have given, it can also be tarnished. Do not be liberal with your recommendations. Take time to give measured views and assessments that can be relied on and trusted.
In the times that we are in it’s very tempting to be very generous in giving a recommendation to help out a friend, colleague whatever the case may be. This is very noble but we need to be careful of pitfalls.
Here are a few some tips on giving recommendations:
Give a recommendation only to the extent that you are comfortable with and knowledgeable about. Reflect on the experience you have had. Do not speculate or talk about things you don’t know. It may happen that you can confidently give a character reference or a personality reference but not one on someone’s level of competence.
Be clear what you are referring to and give disclaimers if necessary – Leave no room for guesses when you give recommendations, give dates if necessary and quote specific examples to add weight to your views. If you are asked for specific examples to give weight to your recommendation and simply cannot remember any, this is perfectly fine. We all forget sometimes. No need to make up any stories.
If you are giving a recommendation based on someone else’s recommendation, state as such. It must be clear that you do not actually have any first-hand experience with the person, thing or entity but rather it has been recommended to you by someone else whose views you trust. Do not adopt someone else’s recommendation as your own. This could come back to bite you.
Sometimes you are asked for permission before you are used for a recommendation or referral. Think carefully about this. Do you have enough knowledge and experience to give a recommendation or referral. Reflect on this. If you are ready to give a recommendation make it clear what you can recommend on and what you cannot.
Viewed differently a recommendation, endorsement or referral could be likened to a stamp of approval. Do not just stamp everything that comes your way. Have minimum standards that should be met before you give your stamp. Ask yourself, what am I really stamping? Is this thing, person, and company worthy of my stamp of approval. Don’t just stamp blindly. Be focussed and make sure your stamp is clear. Stamp gently but firmly and with purpose. Your stamp should not be fuzzy and smudged. The inscription must be crystal clear. Stamp once, stamp clearly and stamp with purpose. Have a stamp that can be counted on, have a stamp that can be relied and have a stamp of distinction. – BTM