Why Can’t Some People Feel Comfortable Asking For Referrals?


What is the true value of a referral?  It is hard to define and quantify because the referral is more than a transaction, it is an act of faith and an act of loyalty.  People refer others because they have knowledge (or at least a hope) that the referred will not be disappointed.  No one wants to make a personal recommendation and have it backfire because it reflects badly on them (unless they are filled with alternate and sinister motives).  Referrals are the strongest form of compliment but sometimes these complements need to be drawn out instead of waited for.

We learn to wait for referrals and acts of praise because it increases our personal feelings of satisfaction or keeps us from feeling rejected.  Consider the following domestic example.  You do something for your spouse and you want them to recognize you for the effort…so you wait for them to say something.  The praise does not come but won’t solicit a comment because the value of the praise diminishes or perhaps they say they did not notice and feelings of rejection surface.  We learn to wait for praise and a referral is praise – the more natural means the more authentic leading to the more personal value… it just feels better.  This is great but what is the purpose of a referral?  Is it to feed a feeling of praise or is it to build your business on a foundation of service provided?  The right answer is the latter.

We must keep in mind that a referral, while a personal compliment is a business tool for developing business first and foremost and we need to ask for the referral in all cases.  There many articles and tools that teach us how to seek out referrals, what is usually missing is why it is so hard for some people to do.  Asking for a referral and ensuring they are a quality referral can be taught to anyone, but overcoming the feelings that make asking for referrals awkward and an internal battle that needs to be recognized. 

On many coaching occasions I have heard people suggest they “don’t want to bother the person any further,” “there is a risk of rejection, especially if they have already rejected my pitch”, and “if they really valued me they would offer up the referral.”  All of the above are incorrect.  The referral is not being shared because you do not ask and the notion of breaking the barriers within yourself is limiting your success in this area. Mark Gallant, Account Executive at Executrade, commented on referrals, “There is no reason we should not ask if we believe in our service.  After we miss an opportunity to ask and reflect on it we can usually see no real reason why not to ask.  Yet we don’t.  To become more comfortable we need to ensure we have ‘asking for a referral’ as one of our goals for any meeting.”

How do you do this?  Consider the following:

  1. Recognize that the limitation is under your control and therefore you can overcome it
  2. Recognize that people are usually happy to help, whether you are being referred to a restaurant or referred to service provider
  3. Recognize the purpose of a referral is not praise, it is business development
  4. Recognize that if someone does not have a referral it is not a personal rejection

We struggle with asking people for favors, we struggle asking for praise, we struggle with rejection – it is built into our culture as an individualistic society.  Referral is an approach to business that acknowledges that everyone can play a role in your success and being open to it.  Open yourself up to asking for referrals and you will increase your success. 


Executrade – Your Recruitment Specialists



Mark Gallant: http://ca.linkedin.com/pub/mark-gallant-bsc/21/17b/351

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