The Reward (and Risk) of a Referral

92% of people trust recommendations from friends and family above all other forms of advertising (Nielson).

A true measure of success

Few things in the business world are more rewarding than having someone appreciate your work so much that they heartily recommend you to their friends and family. To me it is one of the ultimate seals of approval – a most definite measure of success. You can calculate all the revenue figures, profit margins, growth projections and balance sheets you want…but if someone trusts you and is confident enough in your work that they tell someone else about it, then generally speaking, all those other things will work out just fine.

Referral rewards

Recently someone referred me to a friend of theirs who needed some civil engineering work done. Or at least they thought they did. As it turns out, after some preliminary investigation into their needs and the various solutions that we came up with together, we both came to the conclusion that an engineering answer to their problem probably wasn’t in their best interests at this time. Although I didn’t get a paying job out of the situation, I was thankful for the referral and was just happy to have been able to help. (OK, OK…so there WAS a part of me that really wanted the do some engineering, get something built and get paid…full disclosure, right?)

Later on, I ran into the person that had referred me in the first place. He had recently reconnected with his friend and had been heartily thanked for referring Lancaster Civil to them. My friend then said something that made me do cartwheels inside. He said “It made me proud to have referred you in the first place…” Besides making my day, it was a powerful reinforcement to me about the rewards of both making and receiving a referral.

Double-edged sword

But referrals can also be a source of great risk. 92% of people trust referrals because…well…they trust the person making the referral. When you recommend someone to your friends and family, you’re putting your own personal integrity and trust on the line…and it’s up to the person you referred to fulfill that trust. When you make a referral, you put your reputation on the line and then leave the outcome in someone else’s hands! Talk about risk… When you place your own name at risk by making a recommendation to friends and family, it’s no wonder that people take that form of “advertising” more seriously than any other.

Community life

But that’s what makes us a community – a group of people that are looking out for each other’s needs and are willing to take risks (large and small) for each other, in order to see each other succeed. In this context, a referral is not primarily the start of a business transaction, or a form of advertising, or some data to be analyzed…it’s a genuine offer of help – even if it puts me at risk. It’s a means for connecting folks with needs to those that can help. It means we’re putting someone else’s well-being potentially above our very own. But that’s OK…if we’re truly designed for community – it’s just what we do.

 

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