Bad taste or good business?

The topic of this update is one that troubles me now and again. I don't have the answer and I can't seem to find much written about it on industry pages like PR week or The Drum so I wonder if its a dark art spoken about in hushed tones.

Sounds sinister? Well I think it is, a bit. Let me explain.

When I started my own business I was supported by a business network and an advisor, who helped with business plans and alike. He seemed keen to help me network which I was hugely grateful for but he then explained that there would be an introduction fee for this work. I was very green and equally keen to make my business a success so I agreed but it never felt right. Especially as he suggested I didn't need to tell anyone. I wonder now if he was getting kickbacks on both sides. Now, you could call that entrepreneurial but I am not sure it is ethical - especially as he was being funded to work with me.

On one hand I don't disagree in referral fees, or kick backs in principle if all parties are aware it's happening but to me its something that should be done because you think person A (me) would be the right fit for business B.

Thankfully I won a large piece of work a few weeks later and I was off the hook!

The topic came up again last week as I recommended a contact of mine for some work that my agency couldn't service as we are happily nice and busy. The second comment from the star of a lady I was passing the opportunity to, after thanking me, was to ask what my referral fee was. I was astounded as it just isn't the way I work. I really liked the person who needed some support and I really rate the business I recommended. End of.

But is it. If that conversation leads to a contract and my contact buys me a bottle of wine or shouts me lunch next time we see each other is that a kickback dressed differently?

If someone refers me for work I commonly offer something 'thrown into' the contract as we haven't had to pitch for work as such but I think I would turn down any work if a fee was wrapped in it somewhere.

I would love to hear what others think. For now here's a Friday picture for you *from tinterweb*.

Emma, Chief Sayer x