Referrals are by far the best way to find top talent and separate yourself from the weaker recruiters who simply troll job boards. Your ability to tap your network for referrals gives you impressive credibility when selling your services. This also increases your confidence in the value that you can provide.
Referrals create instant trust with the referred candidate and therefore shrink the process of having selling yourself. Referred candidates tend to be more open with recruiters and less evasive. Referrals are also highly targeted as they come from direct communication with someone in the field.
Benefits for the person who refers – Do people really benefit from referring candidates to you? The answer is yes, in some small ways, they do. First off, they feel good by being able to help connect people whom they respect. It lets them know that they are a person “in the know.” Finally, they will likely get better treatment from you if they refer quality people to you.
Benefits to the referred candidate – Talking about your career with a stranger can be an intimidating process. When the candidate realizes that you have been referred to them by a trusted friend or co-worker, they feel safer. Their anxiety drops and they open up about what they really want in their next move. Being referred also saves them time in evaluating different recruiters to work with.
Plant referral seeds – The key to getting referrals is to make their acquisition into a daily process in your office. You can plant referral seeds in many subtle ways. For instance, you can add a signature line to your email such as:
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PS, I grow my client list through quality referrals from people like you. Do you know anyone who could benefit from my services?
Another example of an easy method for getting referrals is to send a card to thank your clients just for being a client. Send it out of the blue for no apparent reason. When people feel appreciated, they are more likely to refer.
Here are the seven steps in the referral conversation:
- Make it part of your agenda: Plan to ask on a specific call.
- Remind the person how you met: “We’ve been working together for 2 months, how did you first hear about me?” Reinforces referral value if they themselves were referred to you.
- Ask a value seeking question: “What has been the benefit of working with me?”
- Ask for help and advice: “I’m glad that you’ve gotten value. Can I ask for your help and advice on something?”
- Ask for the referral: “Who do you know who may appreciate the same type of relationship?”
- Help them by getting specific: “I believe you may know several programmers from your last position at Oracle…”
- Move from lead to referral: “Would you mind sending Tom an email before I give him a call?”