Why nice professionals finish first

Two colleagues contacted me last week to discuss how we might exchange referrals, and the contrast in the two approaches was telling.

The first wanted to set up some sort of arrangement where he would receive a percentage of any deal he refers my way. I don’t care for this kind of arrangement because it creates a conflict of interest. I want referrals from people who value my expertise and want people in their network to benefit from my services.

The second had an approach that I really liked. “Andrew,” he said. “I really like your work. I have tons of clients that could benefit from what you do, and I want to introduce you to them. In exchange, maybe you can do the same for me when you see the opportunity.”

I asked him about his philosophy of exchanging referrals, and he said, “To borrow from Yiddish, there are two types of people: those who are mensches, or nice, and those who are not. I like doing business with mensches and thing that in the long run, nice guys and gals do finish first.”

He went on to tell me about a colleague of his who always wants a referral fee, and how tiresome it is to work with him as a result.

“So I just try to help people succeed, and usually it pays off — often in unexpected ways.”

Who can resist this approach? What better way to get someone on your side than to make the first move and really help them succeed? It is a great way to build trust and show that you are committed to the other person’s success.

By the end of our conversation, I wanted to open my entire contact list to him, and we have since brainstormed about how to work together! Meanwhile, I haven’t called the first colleague back.

Nice professionals finish first. Are you a “mensch”?

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