A while back, a marketing colleague wrote about how important it is to not add people to your mailing list without permission. She emphasized very strongly that (in the USA) it's illegal to do so unless you have a business relationship with the person. And she went on to say that a business relationship means you've done business together or the person has expressed interest in your services or they've taken you up on a free offer. She particularly emphasized that it doesn't mean they gave you their card at a networking event.
But - the very next week she added me to her list after she asked for my card at a networking event!
Right there, although I've known her for a long while, and trusted her, the first small crack appeared. There's a saying that I've mentioned before: "How you do anything is how you do everything." In other words, if you act according to some internal or external principle in one situation, you're likely to repeat that behavior in other circumstances. People draw conclusions about you based on what you do and say. They assume that how you do the small things of life reflects how you handle the large things.
Watch how someone treats you in early conversations. If they are disrespectful, unpunctual, demanding, you can be sure that's how they'll be during the course of your working relationship too. If they are courteous, listen well and seem to care about you, this tells you something about what it will be like to work with them.
It wasn't a big deal that my colleague stuck my name on her mailing list and that I'm getting a few extra emails every month. I do enjoy reading what she writes and keeping up with what she's doing and thinking. But her action certainly colored my attitude towards her because she was doing exactly what she told others not to do a few days earlier - AND she'd even pointed out that it was illegal!
A little crack like that can get bigger and bigger over time; rumors can start in that little crack; that little crack can widen into a chasm and you're the one that tumbles in.
Do I always do things perfectly? No way. I screw up all the time. Do I always do what I say? Probably not.
I simply want to point out the effect it can have when you don't take your own advice. Over time - if you repeat the behavior - it can damage your reputation.
As the owner of a local networking organization said years ago: "In business your reputation is the most valuable thing you have. Guard it carefully!" When I ended up on the email list I mentioned above, I began to understand what she meant.
Copyright 2013 Maggie Dennison. All rights reserved.
Maggie Dennison helps independent service professionals and owners of small businesses speak and write so that their ideal clients know why they need them.