Sunday, October 7, 2007

The referral system, how to get the name

Isn’t it interesting that all statistics that we read and everyone that we have talked to about the best source of candidates will invariably attest to the fact that the best source of candidates is referrals? Yet as you speak with recruiters asking them were the bulk of there day is spent, you will hear things like searching thru the databases or processing paperwork but referrals doesn’t seem to rank too high on the list of activities they spend their time on. I don’t know if you’d agree with me but if generating referrals is an important part of our work shouldn’t we be spending more time generating them?

It seems to me that if we do not spend time creating and developing a referral strategy then we just stumble our way into referrals.Referrals don’t just happen; they are made, and as phone sourcers we recognize these to be at the foundation of our work. Even if you are doing everything wrong in your recruitment, you will get the accidental referral but, by creating a methodical organized approach to consistently generating referrals, you will find that sourcing can become a pretty simple thing. So how do we stimulate this powerful sourcing strategy?

The place to begin is by identifying the ideal candidate. In order to receive high quality referrals you must be able to quickly communicate the exact type of person that makes a great referral. As some people in the industry have coined; have your elevator spiel. You must quickly and well be able to communicate who you are looking for. If you can’t communicate to others who it is you are looking for; then, how will they know who to refer to you. It takes more than rattling off keywords (after all, it is not a database you are communicating with).

Part of your message needs to easily explain the value you bring to anyone who is referred; why should they give you the name? It’s important that your referral sources know what makes you exceptional, what you have to offer. Spend some time shaping up a creative approach to motivate and stimulate referrals with value, respect, appreciation, recognition, and gratitude. I know, after that last line I can hear you say, whatever!! How do you do that? Think of your referral program as more than a means to ask for someone your contact would know. Make it a system which with you can educate your contacts on how what your needs are and what it would mean for them to refer someone to you.

Instructing your contacts on the steps of your referral program can make a great distinction between yourself and everyone else. By clearly explaining in simple terms what your requirements are you have set their expectations for a professional networking experience and in the process enhanced the quality of referrals. At the risk of sounding redundant, invest, yes, invest some time considering your approach, and recognize the value that relationships bring. Build components of trust and rapport building into your strategy; don’t try to fake your way, people can tell fake, even thru the phone. Let your personality come thru but guide the interaction with a well thought out strategy to make it a worthwhile exchange. When they provide you with a name it should not be because you coerced anyone, nor should they feel that they betrayed a friend, rather that they enhanced their friend’s opportunities by providing their name to a true professional who will honor their trust and respect their confidence.

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