With all that social networking is supposedly offering I would have expected referrals to be more popular and effective than what I have experienced. For marketing agencies, marketing consultants and marketing service agencies referrals are the real gold standard.
People that know me have heard me say referrals can only go bad. I say that with my tongue in cheek to a degree but there is an underlying seriousness to my observation. If you ask me to suggest a company or individual to perform some sort of service you are counting on me to give you a good reference. So if it works out you will not be surprised nor will I really receive any credit since that’s why you called me in the first place. However if the referral does not work out I can then only look bad. It’s all the more reason why a genuine and honest referral can be so powerful.
So referrals would be better offered without solicitation. This is a bit of an odd concept I realize in that it is not often in practice. LinkedIn attempts to do this with their ‘write a recommendation’ feature for your contacts (highlighted whenever you make a ‘new’ connection). Yet often I find that while I know the person that I have LinkedIn with, when I first connect with someone new, I am not immediately thinking of or able to make a recommendation or referral.
We all know referrals are extremely powerful. They can help cut through a great deal of red tape when they come from a trusted source. So how can people make professional referrals be part of your resume without being overly cheesy or promotional?
Here are a few suggestions:
1) Only write a referral for someone you have personally worked with more than once.
2) Go through your network and think about writing a referral or recommendation for as many people
in your network as you feel truly merit one. This could represent quite a few people so it might
take some time.
3) Take the time or offer to speak to someone who wants to know more about the person you are
referring or recommending.
4) Don’t ask the person you are referring or recommending to write a corresponding referral for you –
let it happen organically. It should not be a tit for tat thing.
With companies changing CMO’s and marketing service companies the way people change socks, referrals and recommendations have never been more important. Associates that I have informally polled noted that there are increasingly fewer engagements gained through recommendations and referrals. I think it should be the other way around.
How about getting started on writing a few referrals/recommendations today?