What would you do if someone sends you a message on Facebook asking for your views about a certain product or service you have used?
That would depend on whether you know the person or not, right? With a friend you’d be free and share an honest opinion. With a stranger you’d be extra cautious. You never know who that stranger really is – could be a genuine prospective client or someone from your company or maybe a competitor trying to find out the general sentiments prevailing in the market or maybe some creep trying to get too friendly.
Fourteen friends of MBA Crystal Ball, who were gracious enough to share their experiences on our Facebook page, got approached by someone they didn’t know, for their thoughts about the MBA MAP – Profile Evaluation and Application Strategy Tool. And they did what anybody who values their privacy and security would do. They ignored the stranger’s Facebook query.
And our new friend got upset because nobody was enthusiastically pouring out their hearts. Just a couple of days after this friend had so eagerly shown interest in working with us, the candidate (who probably had a change of mind) disappeared.
That incident was a first for us and it’s got a lesson for everyone. We’ve mostly had people coming to us through referrals – somebody they know who has already worked with us and has had nice things to say. So trust and credibility have never been problem.
Of late, we’ve also been getting approached by those who’ve done a quick Google search and come to our website. They don’t know us, we don’t know them. Awkward starting moments.
We realise that it’s tough to form an opinion about any team purely on the basis of their website. If you are one of those Google visitors, here are a few things you could do to verify if we are fly-by-night operators or a genuine team that you’d want to be associated with.
– Dig deeper. One of the reasons we ask our friends for testimonials on Facebook, is because it easy to trace it back to the actual person. Irrespective of whether the people you reach out to share their views, you can still find out whether it is a real person or a fabricated profile.
– Forget testimonials, form your own independent opinion: We’ve been active on several discussion forums for a pretty long time now. So spend some time browsing through our ‘Ask MBA Crystal Ball’ threads on GMAT Club, Beat The GMAT, Businessweek, Pagalguy. In fact, we’ve also been featured in the international media. That’ll give you a better idea of whether there’s real substance or just marketing hype (my favourite word since my MBA book got released).
– Best option. Ask somebody you know and trust to work with us and give you an authentic review. (Your raised eyebrows can be lowered now. Just kidding.)
But on a serious note, just one request. Pleejh pleejh pleejh…do your homework and background research before you approach us. It’ll save both sides a lot of heartburn later.
Update to the orig blog post: If you are wondering how the original story ended, read on. Several months after we published this post, the person we spoke about approached us again and volunteered for a guest post. If you search the archives you’ll find the success story of this applicant. S/he managed to get into a decent school on his/her own. So though we didn’t work together, the original paranoia seems to have been addressed.
Applicants aren’t the only ones who are paranoid. There was a time when business schools would also view admission consultants with suspicion. However over time that stance seems to have evolved. Read this related post on –> MBA Admissions Consultants: How the best business schools view them