Reputation Management: You Are Known By The Company You Keep

Today, I was sent a blast email from another industry professional… someone that I’ve never met nor communicated with prior to this generalized message which landed in my in-box.  In the person’s note, they even apologized for the fact that they were sending a bulk email to everyone within a commonly associated group.

I did a quick scan of the message and read that this person was introducing a money-making partnership and was requesting my particiation… along with everyone else whose email was listed in the email (instead of blind-copied as per social netiquette).

Like most people, I get a lot of these generic messages in my box, so I quickly replied, saying, “REMOVE,” then sent it off and didn’t give it another thought.

Surprise! I got an email back from this person who said that they hoped that they had not offended me with their ‘offer.’

But what transpired next was like watching a slow-motion train wreck happen in a series of back-and-forth emails.

I tried to explain to this individual that in today’s era of relationship-building, getting a blast email is a complete turn-off.  Simply put: I didn’t know them and wasn’t going to partner with someone I don’t know solely based on my benefitting from a certain amount of money that would be the result of the proposed partnership.

Why would I put my reputation on the line for someone I don’t even know?

Reputation management is a life-long process and is the result of careful cultivation of personal and professional relationships based on mutual respect and affinity. We choose our friends and are known by the company that we keep.

The reply back from this person was defensive.

They totally didn’t get it.

The real train-wreck from this entire experience was that this person missed a true opportunity had they taken the time to personalize their approach.  I would have been much more willing and open to partnering had they taken the time to get to know me first before asking me to do something for them.

Today, relationships come first… not money. If you cultivate the relationships the right way, the money will follow… not the other way around.

With this individual, we had never interacted before this moment, and then they sent me a generalized email.  As a recipient, that tells me that they haven’t taken the time to find out about me, my business model, or general approach before asking something of me.   By taking the time to do some quick research on a target audience and either sending a individual email or making a phone call for a personal touch-point, this would open a door for opportunity, rather than a total shut-down.

When I coach clients on job search techniques, I advise them to build their LinkedIn networks carefully and be selective with who you let in. The previous blog post I wrote talked about being wary of LinkedIn collectors who just want to add another connection like a notch on a belt.  Reputation by association is something to take very seriously.

The next time someone unknown to you asks something of you without establishing any kind of personal rapport, you might want to question their motives.

Is it YOU that they want… or instead, is it the MONEY you can bring to them? 

And base your decision from there.