Making a referral program work

Regardless of your profession, there is no greater self-marketing tool than having people refer you and/or your services. In my profession of Executive Recruiting, referrals are the lifeblood to Business Development and Candidate Sourcing. Nothing speaks louder than an endorsement from peers, clients and those with whom you have had professional interactions with.

In the 20+ years that I have been recruiting I have developed what I believe is a keen sense on when to ask, who to ask and how to ask for a referral. A few things I try to keep in mind:

  • Referrals are a two way street, the karmic wheel spins freely when you are not only asking but offering as well.

  • Match the referral request to the need.

  • Be respectful to those you ask. Don’t go to the well too many times.

  • Always follow up with the person providing the referral. A short thank-you note referencing the outcome shows that you appreciate the person who took the time to hear your pitch, gave serious thought to it and dug deep into their trusted network.

  • If you win, share the spoils! A gift certificate, bottle of wine or researching the referring party’s favorite sports team and sending them a hat or jersey lets them know you appreciate their time, trust and assistance. Follow through.