There is a saying that people do business with people they know, like, and trust. The same goes for making referrals.

People worry about the impact of a referral going wrong on the relationship, especially if it is their best client! When we introduce people to our contacts it will either strengthen the relationship or weaken it. We have a lot to gain if it goes right and a lot to lose if it goes wrong.

One of the quickest ways to build trust is through meeting our commitments. If we say we will do something then we do it. When we fail to do what we say we will, we risk developing a reputation of being someone who is unreliable. How enthusiastic would you be to refer an unreliable supplier to your best client?

In business, people like predictability and dependability. We need to be able to plan and depend on people doing what they say they will. We may be dependable to our best clients but how dependable are we to people we have only just met?

A good friend of mine, Rob Peters of Standard of Trust, is a leading pioneer and visionary in relationship capital (RC). It takes Stephen Covey’s ‘Emotional Bank Account’ metaphor and turns it into something that is measurable and therefore tangible. In so doing it helps to create the behaviour of meeting commitments and the by-product is trust. He is having great success in building a network of people that quickly start referring business with each other. He does this by focusing each person on being held accountable for the commitments they make with each other.

The next time we think about offering to do something for someone else, no matter how small or insignificant it seems. we need to ask ourselves ‘Am I prepared to COMMIT to this? Am I prepared to be held accountable for this?’

Easier said than done but when we understand the impact on business development of meeting commitments it becomes a great incentive!