“So here’s a list of your contacts that I printed out from your Linkedin profile and a pen. Check off the names of the people that you think I should go talk to.”
Haven’t you heard of social lube?
Social lube. That’s a funny way to start this post, but that was the first thought that entered my mind. But before I get ranty, let’s go back to the beginning. The week before, I received a cold call from Richard, who we will call Dick. Dick was in the insurance business and was trying to develop relationships with people in Austin. I was not a potential client since I’m already insured enough to make Justin a happy widow, but I agree to meet Dick for coffee the next week to chat about his business, who he works with, and the kind of clients he’s looking for. Dick is already seated when I arrive, we shake hands, he tells me his last name, reminds me what company he works with, and asks me how long I’ve been with IT Freedom. As I’m answering his question, Dick reaches in to his briefcase, pulls out a few sheets of paper and slides them to my side of the table. It was a print out of my Linkedin connections.
“So here’s a list of your contacts that I printed out from your Linkedin profile and a pen. Check off the names of the people that you think I should go talk.”
So, what IS social lube? Social lube is an integral part to business relationships. It’s the process of building rapport and trust by getting to know the other person. Asking for referrals is a give and take situation, and can be a high pressure exchange since both parties are expected to deliver in some way. The referrer needs to trust that you will not act in a way that will tarnish their reputation. The referrer also needs to know who YOU are to qualify prospects and send referrals your way. Dick did neither of those things. And by ignoring the importance of social lube, I immediately saw Dick as a taker – someone that doesn’t play fair, and a person that I need to protect my contacts from.
I have told a handful of people this story, one of the arguments that pop up are that I shouldn’t have gotten my feathers ruffled since my Linkedin profile was on the web and free for the public to see. Public information or not, there is still a dance between the referrer and the person asking for referrals that has to take place. My point is that rapport and trust building must be part of the equation. Consider the scenarios below -
If someone that you’re meeting for the first time like Dick came in to your office, grabbed your rolodex off your desk, tossed it to you, and asked you to pull out the cards of people that you thought he should talk to, would you do it?
Since I know your name and the county appraisal district is free for the public to search through, I can find out where you live. If I show up at your door and ask to come in, are you going to let me walk in the door?
My point is that relationships are built on trust, no matter the setting. Business relationships aren’t any different. There is nothing wrong with leveraging another person’s network or influence – as long as you have the permission to do so. Permission comes after rapport and trust has been established.
Just because I now know Dick’s last name didn’t mean that I trusted him enough to refer anyone in his direction. Honestly, if the meeting had gone well and he followed up with an email mentioning Linkedin, I would have been happier to oblige. But he didn’t. Dick was all about him. Good thing I’m a nice person, I let him down respectfully.
“Well Dick, before I give out anyone’s contact information, I ask them for their permission, so let me take this list back to the office and take a look at that.”
A couple of days pass.
“Hi Dick, I apologize, but the people on that list either had an insurance policy in place, or weren’t comfortable with me giving out their contact information. Best of luck!”
Be a person that people will be glad to know. Respect their time. Genuinely take an interest and care about who they are. Don’t be a taker. And for god’s sake, don’t forget about social lube.
As always, play nice, use good judgement, and happy networking.