Reliability and Finding the Right Expert for Your Business

During a fruitful first meeting with a new colleague and collaborator this week, she mentioned something that really disturbed me.  She has a very healthy graphic design and publishing business and works with a broad array of customers.  She focuses on what she does very well and gives referrals, like any good business, to other businesses that she works with and trusts. However, in a couple of instances she has had to give referrals to customers for solopreneurs she didn’t know as well, particularly in the digital and social media marketing areas.

Sadly, both she and her customers “got bitten.” Although I haven’t gotten the complete story, apparently the solo businesses gladly took the referrals, promised the moon, seriously under-delivered and then disappeared. My colleague looked bad and her customers had a less than wonderful experience, as well as losing money and time.

Wow.  Just Wow….

Being a small-to-medium sized business may make it a bit more of a challenge to find the right expert or resource for your company’s needs, but you still need to perform due diligence. A reference or referral from a trusted source is good, but you owe it to yourself to ‘triangulate’ the prospective expert.  How can you do this?

Actually, LinkedIn can be a pretty decent place to start. Granted, one could manufacture a profile and a business there, but take a closer look: does this person have recommendations from others that align with the skills and expertise you will be hiring them for? These are not the “Skills & Endorsements” that someone can merely click on to endorse them for a skill like Digital Marketing or Project Management. While interesting, you will really want to dig into the individual recommendations made for the proposed expert and, as important, who made them. Click through to their profiles. Read about their businesses and backgrounds. Pick a few and send them email to ask further about their work with the person or company you’re looking to hire. Don’t be shy, here…the investment you make in time may just save you a lot of time, money and embarrassment.

Once you’ve checked them out in LinkedIn, check their own web site and look for recommendations there as well. Again, reach out to a few and inquire about their experience. Then set up a face-to-face (if possible) with the proposed expert. Have your questions ready and don’t be afraid to ask the tough ones, especially if your discussions with the companies that recommended them uncover some discrepancies or concerns. Be through and don’t be afriad to put off the ‘final decision’ for a bit so you may consider all you’ve learned.

If you’re not satisfied, do not be afraid to walk away, even if your need is great or urgent. It would be better to lose a bit of time to finding the Right Expert than getting the Wrong Expert on-board and then finding out the hard way.

The hard way doesn’t really provide a ‘do-over.’

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