My previous post about lists prompted a discussion amongst my team and one mentioned how she’d been approached to do a joint venture with a company, which all sounded very good, until she was asked to hand over her list so the other company could contact all those people. She refused and I can’t blame her. My response was this:
I’ve had clients ask me the same thing. It’s interesting you know – I was in a discussion on another forum yesterday and one of the VAs there had been asked to do something for her client which was morally wrong. The majority of the people responding were advising her to ditch the client and stand firm for her reputation. The latter I agreed with but the former I didn’t. The reason being is that I really do believe that some people don’t even know or understand what is morally or ethically wrong, i.e. they see so much of the ‘grey shades of life’ on TV, in the papers, in books and magazines, that it becomes a normal and ‘accepted’ way of life and unless they have had a strong moral upbringing that has definite boundaries, they just don’t think about it (And ‘morals’ can differ across cultures too). I thought perhaps her client just needs to be educated – as I’ve had to with a couple of my own clients. They didn’t get angry with me but were surprised at my response and asked my reasoning – when I explained, they understood and never approached the matter again. However, on occasion, I will promote something for someone via my list – but it’s me doing it, not anyone else.
And then last night I was speaking to a lady from Austrade at a networking event and we were talking about a similar thing (probably why I felt prompted to write my new post this morning) and I suddenly realised that I actually have access to probably 20,000 people or more on various lists I manage for clients. But it’s never occurred to me that I could do something with them for my own reasons – simply because I don’t think that way. It wasn’t until the Austrade lady asked me about whether it had ever crossed my mind, that I realised that ‘no, it hadn’t’.
So, asking someone to share their database so others can have access to it, to do whatever they want, might appear to be a reasonable request and a case of ‘you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours’ but it goes a lot further than that. You’re suddenly giving over your list to someone else’s reputation – and who knows what that might be? Ivan Misner discussed a similar point when speaking at a cocktail function in Melbourne a few months ago. He was talking about when we refer people to other businesses – we’re giving our recommendations and a little bit of our reputation. It’s an important thing really. KMT