They received a huge stack of speaker applications but when my friend Paula Morand gave the event organizer a call and gave me a glowing recommendation it made all the difference to the people deciding who to hire. I got the keynote and the opportunity to spread my message of trust to a new audience. Paula knows the organization and is well respected by the people in power. She’s seen me present. She knows what I talk about and her referrals are golden. It’s gone both ways. I’ve referred people to Paula and have called and tipped the scale on the plus side for Paula when a colleague who was vacillating on using her services. I have a great deal of respect for Paula and I know she feels the same.
It got me thinking. What do you absolutely need to know to give a good referral? What must you do to get a referral?
When I was working under contract for a Doctors office handling their Human Resource needs, I knew that I would get a couple of hundred applicants when I advertised for an entry-level position.
The first step in my process was getting the stack of resumes to a reasonable number. I’d do a quick weeding out to whittle the pile down. If there were spelling mistakes or grammatical errors, they were put in the ‘no’ pile. No personalization? Garbage! Seriously over qualified? Nope. When you only have a week to replace an employee you go HR Ninja warrior.
I loved it when I received referrals from employees or from the Doctors. Those resumes went to the top and the people got an interview.
If you’re going to give referrals keep these things in mind:
- Your reputation is on the line.
- Make sure that you know the person is competent and has the skills to do the job.
- Know the character of the people you’re referring. Are they easy to deal with? People who are thoughtful, caring and pleasant to deal with are the best to refer.
- Will they communicate back to you? I give a week for someone to get back to me after the referral contact has been made. If they don’t, I hesitate referring them again.
If you want to get referrals, keep these things in mind:
- Their reputation is on the line. Be respectful of that.
- Know them. Don’t ask strangers whom you’ve just met. The best people to ask for a referral are from people who trust and believe in you.
- The last one brings me to the obvious one. ASK for one. Don’t assume someone will give you a referral just because.
- Consistently show up on time.
- Be professional
- Only ask for referrals when you have the competence to do the job.
- Say thank you. Go the extra step and write a note or send a card. If you want the person to refer you again, make it memorable.
I called Barbara Brooks Kimmel and asked her about giving referrals. Barbara is the CEO and Cofounder of Trust Across America – Trust Around the World. Their mission is to help organizations build trust. Barbara believes that trust is built over time and in incremental steps. For those reasons, she only gives referrals on people whose character and competence she can verify.
Whether you are giving or getting referrals, everyone should be treated with respect. The goal is to make referrals such a great experience that everyone benefits.