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It’s Not About Who You Know; It’s About Who Knows You


It's Not About Who You Know; It's About Who Knows You

I had the opportunity to ask my network for a few referrals this week. You’d think that certain things would be common sense. For example, if you’re referring someone and are trying to help the person asking, don’t just provide a name. I’m not lazy. I live on Google but there are often more than one person with the same name. Without more details, it’s sometimes hard to narrow down the search.

When I’m referring someone I try to add a line about why I’m referring that person. I figure that if someone wanted random names they’d go to Yelp or Google directly. If they’re asking their network, either personal on Facebook or professional through LinkedIn or a specific group, they are crowdsourcing from people they know and/or trust. Guilt by association.

These days I try to get recommendations from my crowd(s) for everything. Need a photographer, ask for a recommendation on Facebook (I got 12 within an hour). Need a speaker for an event in an area outside my expertise, ask my trusted Alley to the Valley community (14 replies within a few hours of posting). Almost all replies included only a name. So I spent hours trying to track down the actual person.

When it came to photographers, it was overwhelming. I ended up choosing a woman who introduced herself on a private Facebook group I belong to. She didn’t push and I liked what I saw after she sent a link to her site. We got on a quick call and that was it. Frictionless.

The speaker referrals were all over the place. Most people just sent a random name or referred themselves. They didn’t pay attention to the specifics of the request. I did submit one name from this group but found the rest through my personal contacts.

Here’s how we can help each other better when providing referrals/recommendations:

  • Provide context – why you think the person is the right fit. 1 or 2 lines.
  • Provide contact info – a link to their site or LI, IG and an email address.
  • Tell me if you worked with this person and when. Or if you know someone who did. The warmer the endorsement, the more excited I get about the person.

I respond to every email when I get referrals but please don’t be rude when I tell you that I didn’t go with yours. This isn’t high school. I’m not being a mean girl. It’s just not a fit for me or the person I’m helping.

Related: Can This “Ask Culture” Be Truly Successful?

Bottom line: For all the complaints we have about social networks, I find that they are great when you’re looking for a specific recommendation. Especially if we all try to take an extra minute to make the referral sing.

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