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The Golden Rule Of Referrals: Learn to Give a Perfect Referral

The Golden Rule Of Referrals: Learn to Give a Perfect Referral
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The subject of getting referrals has been written to death. Unfortunately, when you read and follow one of those articles or networking books on the subject of getting referrals, you are probably starting on the wrong foot. A better approach is to become really good at giving great referrals. It is a bit like the “giver’s gain” concept in networking which basically goes that those who give great service to others are rewarded for doing so. The golden rule of “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” applies to referrals too.

When you give a referral, the people on both sides should feel like they are being treated with respect – like V.I.P.s or the very important persons that they are. You should be able to give a perfect referral so that the people on both sides get back to you expressing their gratitude for your having made the referral.

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To give a perfect referral, there needs to be a perfect process and it needs to involve perfect people. You will need to create your own process according to your style and preferred approaches. Whether you only have enough time to squeeze out a few phone calls and emails between things or can fly to Jamaica for a round of golf or day of windsurfurfing to make proper introductions depends on your circumstances. Whatever your process, it needs to be sound.

There is a sliding scale of referral process quality from bad to good. Where do your referrals fit on the scale?

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  1. Name-dropping referral. This is when you allow someone to use your name “talk to this person, use my name” with the other side not having been set up expecting something. In other words, permission has not been obtained so it becomes little more than an awkward cold call. This is bad.
  2. Email referral or what we call “referral spamming”. This is when you cc people as you would do with subordinates in an office. There is notice but it is a one way thing without there being permission granted from the other side. The appropriateness of the request has not been confirmed by asking the anticipated recipient before the email notice goes out. This is so so.
  3. Perfect referral. When you talk to both people, get permissions and also confirm the fit before going forward. Followed by a confirmation (maybe by email) and a follow up on how the meeting went and possibly attending the meeting itself. This is what a perfect referral looks like. Your process needs to cover these elements.

Making referrals should not be a high volume operation. One good one done well is better than making 10 crappy ones that can embarrass a bunch of people.

To ensure a perfect referral is given, you need to give it to the right people. These people should have the following attributes:

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  1. They should be the best at whatever it is that they do. “An empty bag will not stand upright.” – Benjamin Franklin.
  2. These should be people that keep their word. There is not much point in referring people who are unable to keep their word. That type of referral is unlikely to produce anything constructive.
  3. They should be easy to deal with. People who are cheerful and pleasant to deal with are the best to have involved in the referral process.
  4. They should say “thank you” and prove it. It depends on the nature of the referral. Something slightly above the ordinary or expected can have long-lasting, positive effects. Sending a hand-written follow up card, flowers or a token gift to someone who would not be expecting it can make a strong positive impression. People who obtain referrals should not take their referrers for granted and should acknowledge them both privately and publicly for the referral.

Everyone involved in the referral should be treated with respect. Since first impressions count and referrals by definition are for making introductions, everyone involved with the process should be mindful of the consequences of a bad first impression that can be caused by a glitched referral.

For you as the referrer, the goal is to have both sides thank you after the referral has taken place. This will make it easy to obtain referrals later from these people when you need them.

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The perfect people using the perfect process creates the perfect referral. Can you say that three times fast?

Peter Paul Roosen and Tatsuya Nakagawa are co-founders of Atomica Creative Group , a specialized strategic product marketing firm. Through leading edge insight and research, sound strategic planning and effective project management, Atomica helps companies achieve greater success in bringing new products to market and in improving their existing businesses. They have co-authored Overcoming Inventoritis: Happy About® Not flushing Away Your Innovation Dollars now available.

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Last Updated on February 20, 2019

How to Get Promoted When You Feel Stuck in Your Current Position

How to Get Promoted When You Feel Stuck in Your Current Position

Are you stuck in the same position for too long and don’t really know how to get promoted and advance your career?

Feeling stuck could be caused by a variety of things:

  • Taking a job for the money
  • Staying with an employer that no longer aligns with your values
  • Realizing that you landed yourself in the wrong career
  • Not feeling valued or feeling underutilized
  • Staying in a role too long out of fear
  • Taking a position without a full understanding of the role

There are many, many other reasons why you may be feeling this way but let’s focus instead on getting unstuck.

As in – getting promoted.

So how to get promoted?

I’m of the opinion that the best way to get promoted is by showing how you add value to your organization.

Did you make money, save money, improve a process, or some other amazing thing? How else might you demonstrated added value?

Let’s dive right in how to get promoted when you feel stuck in your current position:

1. Be a Mentor

When I supervised students, I used to warm them – tongue in cheek, of course – about getting really good at their job.

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“Be careful not to get too good at this, or you’ll never get to do anything else?”

This was my way of pestering them to take on additional challenges or think outside the box, but there is definitely some reality in doing something so well that your manager doesn’t trust anyone else to do it.

This can get you stuck.

Jo Miller of Be Leaderly shares this insight on when your boss thinks you’re too valuable in your current job:[1]

“Think back to a time when you really enjoyed your current role. I bet there was a time when this job was a stretch for you, and you stepped up to the challenge and performed like a rock star. You became known for doing your job so well that you built up some strong “personal brand” equity, and people know you as the go-to-person for this particular job. That’s what we call “a good problem to have”: you did a really good job of building a positive perception about your suitability for the role, but you may have done “too” good of a job!”

With this in mind, how do you prove to your employer that you can add value by being promoted?

In Miller’s insight, she talks about building your personal brand and becoming known for doing a particular job well. So how can you link that work with a position or project that will earn you a promotion?

Consider leveraging your strengths and skills.

Let’s say that project you do so well is hiring and training new entry level employees. You have to post the job listing, read and review resumes, schedule interviews, making hiring decisions, and create the training schedules. These tasks require skills such as employee relations, onboarding, human resources software, performance management, teamwork, collaboration, customer service, and project management. That’s a serious amount of skills!

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Is there anyone else on your team who can perform these skills? Try delegating and training some of your staff or colleagues to learn your job. There are a number of reasons why this is a good idea:

  1. Cross-training helps in any situation in the event that there’s an extended illness and the main performer of a certain task is out for a while.
  2. In becoming a mentor to a supervisee or colleague, you empower then to increase their job skills.
  3. You are already beginning to demonstrate that added value to your employer by encouraging your team or peers to learn your job.

Now that you’ve trained others to do that work for which you have been so valued, you can see about re-requesting that promotion. Be ready to explain how you have saved the company money, encouraged employees to increase their skills, or reinvented that project of yours.

2. Work on Your Mindset

Another reason you may feel stuck in a position is well explained by Ashley Stahl in her Forbes article. Shahl talks about mindset, and says:[2]

“If you feel stuck at a job you used to love, it’s normally you–not the job–who needs to change. The position you got hired for is probably the exact same one you have now. But if you start to dread the work routine, you’re going to focus on the negatives.”

In this situation, you should pursue a conversation with your supervisor and share your thoughts and feelings. You can probably get some advice on how to rediscover the aspects of that job you enjoyed, and negotiate either some additional duties or a chance to move up.

Don’t express frustration. Express a desire for more.

Share with your supervisor that you want to be challenged and you want to move up. You are seeking more responsibility in order to continue moving the company forward. Focus on how you can do that with the skills you have and will develop with some additional projects and coaching.

3. Improve Your Soft Skills

When was the last time you put focus and effort into upping your game with those soft skills? I’m talking about those seemingly intangible things that make you the experienced professional in your specific job skills:

An article on Levo.com suggests that more than 60 percent of employers look at soft skills when making a hiring decision.[3]

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You can bone up on these skills and increase your chances of promotion by taking courses or seminars.

And you don’t necessarily need to request funding from your supervisor, either. There are dozens of online courses being presented by entrepreneurs and authors about these very subjects. Udemy and Creative Live both feature online courses at very reasonable prices. And some come with completion certificates for your portfolio!

Another way to improve your soft skills is by connecting with an employee at your organization who has the position you are seeking.

Express your desire to move up in the organization, and ask to shadow that person or see if you can sit in on some of her meetings. Offer to take that individual out for coffee and ask what her secret is! Take copious notes and then immerse yourself in the learning.

The key here is not to copy your new mentor (think Jennifer Jason Leigh in “Single White Female.” Just kidding). Rather, you want to observe, learn and then adapt according to your strengths. And don’t forget to thank that person for their time.

4. Develop Your Strategy

Do you even know specifically WHY you want to be promoted anyway? Do you see a future at this company? Do you have a one year, five year, or ten year plan? How often do you consider your “why” and insure that it aligns with your “what?”

Sit down and do an old-fashioned Pro and Con list. Two columns:

Pro’s on one side, Con’s on the other.

Write down every positive aspect of your current job and then every negative one. Which list is longer? Are there any themes present?

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Look at your lists and choose the most exciting Pro’s and the most frustrating Con’s. Do those two Pro’s make the Con’s worth it? If you can’t answer that question with a “yes” then getting promoted at your current organization may not be what you really want.

The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why. –Mark Twain

Mel Carson writes about this on Goalcast that many other authors and speakers have written about finding your professional purpose.[4]

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Why is it that you do what you do?
  • What thrills you about your current job role or career?
  • What does a great day look like?
  • What does success look like beyond the paycheck?
  • What does real success feel like for you?
  • How do you want to feel about your impact on the world when you retire?

These questions would be great to reflect on in a journal or with your supervisor in your next one-on-one meeting. Or, bring it up with one of your Vital Work Friends over coffee.

See, what you might find is that being stuck is your choice. And you can set yourself on the path of moving up where you are, or moving on to something different.

Because sometimes the real promotion is finding your life’s purpose. And like Mastercard says, that’s Priceless.

More Resources About Career Advancement

Featured photo credit: Razvan Chisu via unsplash.com

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