Referrals open doors . . . . . that might not open any other way. Treat them with care.
People who would not take your call, respond to your e-mail, or agree to meet with you, generally do, IF you are referred. So . . . treat referrals with care and . . . the referrer with utmost care!
Why do they take your call?
Professional courtesy! It's as simple as that. Think of it from your own point of view.
Scenario 1: A stranger contacts you and ask for assistance.
- Do you get back to them? Maybe.
- Do you respond very quickly? If you do get around to responding, it will not be before other priority items on your "To Do" list.
Scenario 2: The same stranger contacts you, mentions the name of a trusted colleague of yours, states that the colleague suggested they contact you, and then asks for assistance.
- Do you get back to them? Certainly. You owe it to your colleague, who may have done some good things for you. It's called professional courtesy.
- Do you respond very quickly? Whether you respond immediately, or in a while, chances are the stranger's request moves higher in priority on your "To Do" list. Why? You owe it to your colleague or friend. Professional courtesy.
Referrals do open doors. Due to professional courtesy, people who would not take your call, meet with you, or respond to your e-mail do so because they know the name of the person who referred you. So treat any referrals you receive with care.
Biggest mistake made with referrals
The biggest mistake job seekers make when receiving a referral is delaying acting on them, or worse yet, not acting on them at all! When you do nothing, it reflects poorly on both of you: you, the recipient of the referral who didn't do anything, and on the referrer who made the referral. Here's why.
Let's say you are meeting with a network contact. Your contact, Sue, gives you a referral to Stan. Here's what happens behind the scenes.
(1) Sue will give Stan a call, stating that she met with you, was impressed enough by you to refer you to him, and to expect your call. .
(2) So Stan waits. When he receives no contact from you, he may come to question Sue's judgement in gauging people, and he's not too impressed by you either!
(3) When Sue learns that you did nothing to follow-up the referral, chances are high that she will not refer you again. And she winds up apologizing to Stan for wasting his time with a "non-performing referral."
When you do not act upon a referral, you do damage to yourself, your opportunity for securing additional referrals and leads, and to your network contact. So, treat referrals with care. Here's how . . . . .
How to act on a referral
When you are meeting with or talking to a network contact who makes a referral, suggests that it would be good for you to meet with a colleague of theirs, do the following:
1. Thank your contact for the referral.
2. Ascertain how the referral will be alerted that you will be contacting them:
- Will your contact introduce you (via e-mail, a phone call, or in person)?
- Will you make the contact yourself by mentioning your network contact's name?
3. Define specifically when you will get in touch with the referral - a week, 2 weeks, immediately, etc.
- If you are not ready to act on the referral, don't accept it. Explain your reason - you will be away, or you are just beginning your job search and are not yet ready to meet with a referral, etc. State when you will be ready and agree on a time to alert your network contact when he/she can refer you to their colleague(s). This is really important for maintaining your credibility and your network's confidence.
4. Contact the referral as you and your network contact agreed. For advice on preparing for, conducting, and following up a networking meeting, please refer to my article: Networking in Small 1-to-1 Conversations: How do I do it?", Feb 17, 2013. http://www.ajcglobal.com/Articles/Articles.php?id=1564346511137774750
With the referral - Following any interaction with a referral:
(1) Send an e-mail thanking them for the time they spent with you, or are going to spend with you, and
(2) Clarify next steps. Include your understanding of when, where, and what your next interaction will be:
- a phone call in 3 weeks when the referral will have time to talk with you to to discuss your search,
- an in-person meeting
With your network contact who made the referral:
(1) Thank them for making the referral
(2) Inform them when you have acted upon the referral
(3) Update them on the outcome of your interaction with their referral
(4) Keep them posted on the progress of your search, generally with an update every 3 or 4 weeks.
Job seekers find it helpful when managing their activity with network contacts to keep track in a formalized way. Otherwise, as activity increases, things can fall through the cracks!
Track activity, promises to follow-up, and times to stay in touch with a table, spreadsheet, calendar, or a more sophisticated contact management system. It doesn't matter whether it is a computerized or paper and pencil system. What is important is that you consistently use and check your system of tracking your job search activity to ensure that nothing falls through the cracks! That missed meeting, or forgotten follow-up phone call, could have provided just the lead you need to your next opportunity.
For additional information on marketing yourself and your capabilities, please refer to the many articles found under the Articles tabs of the AJC–Career Strategy website, including:
- Thank You Letters - Why Send Them and to Whom? Sept 5, 2013
- Template for a Thank You Letter Following an Interview, Sept 29,2013
- Networking in Small 1-to-1 Conversations: How do I do it?, Feb 17, 2013 _________________________________________________________________________
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