As probably happens to many VAs (or for that matter, any business operator) whose websites are easily located, I get requests asking me if I would promote something, refer someone, or give work to someone. This morning’s request was of the middle agenda and here is what was sent to me:
My name is Joe (withheld) I am with a company called (withheld).
We would like to do some business with your Consulting firm.
Let me explain the help we need.
1. Your company and my company are always looking for new business clients.
2. We need help with business referral assistance.
2. Help us with business referrals and we will pay you a Monthly Fee of $195.00.
5. All we ask is that you write us a ONE-TIME Reference Letter, so we can use this letter to solicit new business It’s that simple.
If you’re interested please let me know and I’ll send you the remaining details.
I eagerly look forward to your reply.
With Kind Regards,
It didn’t take me long to decide to decline his request and this was my answer:
Sorry Joe, but we can’t do this. A number of reasons:
1. We get lots of requests from lots of people – I would spend more time doing this than actually getting work done.
2. You’re sending from an aol address – why aren’t you using your company address?
3. When we do referrals we only do them for people we already have established a working relationship with and therefore, have some experience and knowledge of. How can we possibly refer someone we don’t know anything about? It means putting our reputation on the line.
Hope you understand.
Whilst I could have researched the company name he gave me I’m not sure I want to spend the time doing that. His signature block told me nothing but his name and that his role is ‘vice president’. No website, no contact details other than the aol email address in the message and that was all. It will be interesting to see if he responds.
What his email was telling me was that he didn’t want to reveal who he really is, hence the aol address, or his business is not yet up and running and he’s not yet invested in his own domain. He wants to build his business quickly, without putting in the foundations required, and is looking for others who have already developed an online presence so he can use their reputation for building his business. Or perhaps he’s looking for something else that I may not want to know anything about.
In a day and age of being able to get things done quickly people seem to have forgotten the need to learn things properly, for putting in the groundwork and establishing oneself, especially in business. No-one develops a good reputation overnight, it has to be built over time, step-by-step. Knowing good people in business helps – in spending time with them you can learn from them and emulate them (mentoring is one such way for this to happen) but it still means putting in the hard work and laying the foundations yourself. When people see the evidence of that they are more likely to accept a request for help – from someone they already have some knowledge of or can get that information fairly quickly.
One of the best ways to do that is to find business networks in your industry or target client base industry (perhaps both!) and spend time getting to know people, attending meetings (either physically or virtually), assisting where needed and generally getting people to notice you exist. KMT