Referrals and Recommendations – Are they still valid?


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Mid last month the Australian Financial Review via their Boss mid week column ran an article discussing the value of references and recommendations (I’d link to the article but Fairfax (the publisher) tucks all their content behind a Fort Knox pay wall).

What intrigued me about the article was that it touched on an issue that I often find myself discussing with business leaders and executives – the value of referrals or recommendations.

The article quoted Anita Zimmer from Slade Group who noted that they’d seen a re-emergence of the referral or recommendations. Zimmer felt this is associated with the growth of social media – this is not a startling revelation and really just reflects the growth (and value) of platforms like LinkedIn and their core role both as a personal resume and as a professional business card (your business card of the future).

If we extend this, LinkedIn is bringing a new, unheralded degree of transparency to reputation, referrals, and recommendations – for both those who seek them and those who give them. Unlike the good old days, when asking or giving referrals was relatively innocuous and blind, the new era means we must think about this in new ways.

One of my Social Business One fellow bloggers Matt Heinz summed this up really well last week in his post “Who Do You Let Into Your Network”:

In LinkedIn, I only follow people I can personally vouch for. My sniff test is simple – if someone asked me for a recommendation for someone in my LinkedIn network, I’d better have a good answer.

This is a good approach for all of us. The advice I give to business people is broken into two obvious areas – seeking and giving.

If you’re seeking a referral:

  1. Don’t ask everyone
  2. Be specific in the type of recommendation or referral you’d like

If you’re asked to give a recommendation or referral:

  1. Don’t waffle
  2. Focus on a specific skill, instance, or situation that you’re comfortable talking about
  3. Give recommendations wisely – social karma is important

In summary, recommendations or referrals are still very important – this new age of transparency means they carry more weight than previously – but also more risk

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Mark Parker
Mark Parker is the founder of Smart Selling, and the specialist business unit – Smart Social Media. The core aim of both businesses is to help companies become better sales organisations by utilising the ideas, tools, and practices of Sales 2. and social media.


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