Use Your Own Reputation

There is probably nothing tackier than a person who hastily name-drops. Let’s get this straight: It is not a good thing if you have to get in with someone by using someone else’s name. In fact, it’s a bad thing.

Everyone has gotten in on something thanks to someone else (even me). This is normal. But what I’m talking about is when that’s all you have. When you turn name-dropping into an Olympic sport. Like most things in life, there is a lot of grey area here, which means the devil is in the interpretation, so for simplicity’s sake, I thought I’d break it out for you.

Good Example (AKA the rare case): You are fishing for business and you cast your line. This would be your reputation, your product, your guarantees, your value, your goods… (notice how many times “your” appears in this line). The fish bite because you’ve got some Grade-A bait out there. Then, after the deal crosses the seventy percent line, you mention to your whale that you went to school with his brother. That seals the deal because it’s reinforcement that you are a worthy alley and not because this guy owes somebody else something.

It is not a good thing if you have to get in with someone by using someone else’s name.

Bad Example (AKA what you probably think you should do): After stalking your dream client for weeks or months or whatever it is, you call him up and mention that so-and-so thought you should call. You deliver this statement with some bizarre sense of weight, without any context and probably within the first five or ten minutes of conversation. As a courtesy to the mutual contact, you get a polite dismissal or at best, a referral to someone else.

Still can’t see the difference? It’s simple: If what you have is good, that’s what you should be putting out front. A mutual contact or recommendation is not a reason for someone to give you business; it’s a third party affirmation of your legitimacy.

Remember: Good networking is about demonstrating the value you can give to someone. The earlier in the conversation you have to mention a third party, the weaker your position.

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