Wednesday, May 13, 2009

How to make effective referral introductions

Are individuals, friends and colleagues who you speak with on a regular basis willing to help you out as much as you'd want to return the favor?

For all the aspirational stories we hear about how networking has opened doors to job and projects, such as Fortune magazine's recent "How To Get A Job" cover package, real life is not always beautifully scripted in developing new business and network connections. There are those who give and those who take.

I've had a handful of wonderful referral networking experiences. For example, a former colleague of mine invited me to look through his LinkedIn connections, pick a few, and he wrote letters of introduction to each of them. In return, I took him to sumptuous lunch, gave him some valuable business intelligence and asked him if there was anything else I can do for him, please let me know.

On the other hand, I believe there are many colleagues who don't know how to make a referral properly or are legitimately afraid of doing so.

Let's start with this tenet -- referrals are meant to go both ways. That's how jobs are found, new business is recommended and friendships are bonded.

Here's one of the best ways to introduce people, because if you're going to do it, do it right: find out what your colleague wants you to say about them, and then send one e-mail to both parties simultaneously, explaining what they have in common (i.e. you... and other things), why they should meet, and each other's contact information.

Even better: bring these people together in person in a low-pressure scenario, perhaps over beers in after-work hours.

Public relations professionals need to practice the communication they preach, especially when jobs are scarce and leads are coveted. Referrals are both a short and long term investment -- you're giving colleagues direction and help, and in return, you'll earn goodwill that should pay off in referrals in kind and valuable information to you. You'll feel better after you do it.

There's no guarantee that referrals will work out, but your efforts should be appreciated, noted and reciprocated.

No comments: