Leveraging Our Network: References

Reference Philosophy

A reference is a testimonial of suitability to fill a specific organizational role.  When tapped to provide a reference for a colleague who is interviewing for a position, we’re being asked for an honest assessment—a particular challenge if that person wasn’t a top performer when we worked with them.

We’d all like to believe we were top performers in every position we held.  If we’re objectively honest, however, there are a multitude of reasons (some that may have been outside our control) this might not have been the case.  The same holds true for everyone in our network; so it’s important to give them the same benefit of the doubt we’d like them to give us.

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Leveraging Our Network: Introductions Etiquette

Making the effort to connect people whose relationship may be mutually beneficial is a habit of all great networkers.  The introductions you make add value for all players—you build your own value to your colleagues and connections, and simultaneously demonstrate positive regard for members of your network.   Making introductions is like corporate match-making.  When we meet a person who appears to have parallel interests with someone else in our network – we can determine if each is interested in the connection, then make the introduction.  Our effort compliments both people, regardless of the outcome.        

One important note: when a colleague makes an introduction on your behalf, do acknowledge that compliment by following up with an update.  I only learned how meaningful that update is when I didn’t receive one.

I’d met an accomplished executive when I added her to my engagement team.  She had a deep background as a subject matter expert in a specific field.  As I got to know her, I realized how important being selected for additional engagements was to her financially. With her permission, I introduced her to two former colleagues of mine—one who owns her own firm and often has work she outsources, and the other a highly sought-after consultant who is often in the position to refer subject matter experts.

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We’ve all experienced the feeling of hitting a brick wall.  Those periods in our careers (or lives) when we no longer have the energy to take “it” down brick by brick, we can’t seem to get over “it”, and “it” is just too big to get around. Whatever “it” is seems insurmountable.

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The Business Plan: Conduct A Competitive Analysis

A competitive analysis includes identifying the top competitors in your marketspace, comparing their products and services to yours, and planning how you’ll mitigate those risks.

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