I'm a member of many Facebook groups and something that seems to be happening a lot lately is that people are feeling really frustrated that people they've hired based on suggestions from Facebook groups have turned out to not be good hires at all.
People are understandably annoyed and want to talk about the bad service they've received. Today I don't want to talk about what to do once you're unhappy, I want to talk about how you need to view online recommendations and what I believe you need to keep in mind when you're looking to hire someone new so that you aren't put in that position on the first place!
Asking for recommendations on social media
One of the reasons I love social media is because it's an amazing place to go and find information from people you know. It's how we recently started getting quotes for a new roof, it's how we found a plumber when our shower started leaking, it's how I find guests for my podcast, and so on and so forth.
Having the ability to go and ask people who you should talk to is AMAZING and takes out a lot of the research that I don't want to do.
But here's the thing - sometimes people just tag (when they put a person's name down and it links to their account or their Facebook page) someone they know who does the thing you're asking about and they have no personal experience with that person. They aren't saying "I've used this person, I had a great experience, here's why!" They're saying "I know a person!! This is who it is!" sometimes they're even saying "I know a person and I really like them - this is who it is!!"
It is your responsibility to then take those recommendations and decide how much more information you need to make a decision.
What do I do with the information I get?
A few years ago there were a lot of people getting really frustrated with the new LinkedIn system of endorsements. They felt that they were meaningless and that people were misusing them. It inspired me to write a blog post about them, to explain why I thought they were great.
Here is a direct quote from the other blog post and I think, word for word, it applies here as well:
It is important not to think that these are testimonials. Most of the people who endorse you haven’t even worked with you. Instead it is a way to know if what you’re putting out into the world is what you want.
What does that mean? It means that people are saying they know a person does a thing.
If someone tags me as a business coach but has never worked with me, what they're saying is "Hey, I know Lara Wellman is a business coach!" not "I've worked with Lara and she was great because xyz."
It means I've done a good job at getting my name out there for what I do (yay!)
So when people start tagging names when you ask for a recommendation, don't think those tags are worthless - they're a great place for you to start digging in deeper!
Sometimes people HAVE worked with those people. Sometimes you know based on the volume of tags that someone clearly has a pretty good reputation (or has done a great job at getting their name out there about what they do - that's what you need to make sure you distinguish).
Use the tags to make a list of who to find out more information about. Make sure you then talk to people who have actually worked with those people to get references.
Someone getting lots of tags in a Facebook group is NOT enough information to go on to feel like you did your due diligence.
The sad truth
The reason this post is being written is because I hear a lot of stories about people who hired someone based on a lot of Facebook tags and then they got really bad service. I get private messages from frustrated clients and friends who have hired people without getting actual references, and it turns out that there are many people out there who have great cheerleaders without the follow through of great work to go with it.
When you're hiring someone new, make sure you know
1) What you want to have delivered.
2) What information will make you feel comfortable about working with the person (is it expertise and knowledge? is it quality? is it meeting timelines? is it customer service?)
3) How much risk you're willing to take (you may decide to hire someone based just on a few name tags and a conversation with them - that's ok too, but know that digging further will give you more assurances.)
Using Facebook to get recommendations is something I'm always going to continue doing, but understanding the difference between a straight tag, even if lots of people tagged a person and an actual story of experience is really important - make sure you take that next step to protect yourself!
Have you ever asked for recommendations on Facebook? How did it go?