Sunday, May 10, 2009

Making Referrals - Just Do It

A friend called me the other day and said she had wanted to recommend me as a keynote speaker for her company's annual conference... but she did not know how to make the appropriate introduction.

As we talked, I uncovered the following trepidations that were perplexing her desire to put me in touch with someone who could hire me to speak inside her organization:

Who should she call? Should she send a link or brochure? Would the person feel she was sticking her nose into things out of her area? Since she had never seen me speak, was it appropriate for her to make an introduction? How much did I charge? (as if it was too much, what message might that send to her co-worker?), Would my message work inside her industry? How far in advance of the meeting would be ideal for an introduction? Would I be upset if they did not hire me?, etc...

Wow, I appreciated that she had given so much thought to recommending me as a professional speaker for the conference.... but she was clearly "over-thinking" the whole situation.

This made me realize that often it is not that people do not want to be a referral source for others, it is that they do not know how or where to begin. They over-think the introduction and rationalize too many reasons to not do anything.

Being a connector is easy. You can help your friends and you company when you bring them together for mutually beneficial opportunities. This could be a new vendor (like me as a speaker for an event) or hiring a key employee.

Here are five ways to refer someone into an opportunity at your company:

1. Just do it. Do not worry about the details, just reach out to the person who handles the decisions and tell them you would like to introduce them to a candidate who might be ideal for their need.

2. Do not pre-judge. Let the folks you introduce know that their areas of expertise are outside of your own, and thus you are not sure if there is a "love connection" in this meeting. Better to make an introduction that leads to nothing, than to skip it and miss a huge win / win for the other two people.

3. Do not try to sell the person (or their product or service) to your co-worker. Just make the introduction and let them work out the details. If you try to sell them you might miss the key points and lead your co-worker to having a preconceived notion (positive or negative).

4. Stay out of the way. After you have made an introduction, get out of the mix. Do not pepper your co-working or the other person with questions about their business dealings.

5. Do not over do it. If you make occasional recommendations to people when you instinctively sense a great resource for your company, you will be viewed as an asset to the organization, and you external network will be viewed as an asset. If you consistently pimping your friends as vendors or future employees, you might become that "annoying" employee who is sticking their nose in others business.

When you want to help someone else, do not over-think the process. My friend made the introduction to the sales manager who is planning the meeting. We had a great conversation. He already has a keynote speaker for his event this year, but we are going to talk later about other opportunities.

Have A Great Day.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

as a conference chair, I totally agree that most people over think a recommendation for a speaker. I am often more intrigued by a good resume and bio than I am by a pitch.

Brett Tabke