For some reason a lot of people ask me if I know people. Do I know someone who could produce this – crew that – voice this. The answer is usually yes, but referrals are a tricky thing. There is time involved. And reputations at stake. On both sides! Actually on all three sides. The Asker, me, and the person I refer. Referrals can be a wonderful thing, but you have to be careful.
When I was producing and writing corporate media full-time, I was often asked if I could recommend people to either write a project or produce something. If I wasn’t available to do the writing project myself, I had to spend quite a bit of time evaluating the person/company needing the script and then searching my memory and Rolodex for someone who I felt might be compatible. The last thing you would want is to pair up people with wildly different styles and expectations. Corporate projects for large government contractors go a lot smoother when you match up someone who understands the way a large government contractor works.
The same thing if someone was looking for a shooter. What KIND of a shooter? I had my go-to people, of course (still do), but not every person is right for every job.
But it is even more than knowing who to refer. First you need to evaluate the person doing the asking – do you know this person? Well? Well enough to know how they do business? Social media has made us an international group of people who THINK they know each other. But connecting on Facebook or LinkedIn does not a business “relationship” make. So, you need to truly know that the person doing the asking will be able to follow through if you do refer someone to them.
This has never been an easy task, but back when everyone truly knew each other (one of the benefits of belonging to professional associations), you tended to know the person doing the asking.
You also need to know what kind of budget the person doing the asking might have in mind. You don’t want to refer people who would charge significantly more (or less). Which means that you probably should have a good idea of the pay expectations of the people on your referral list. New CRM software makes it easier to keep track of this kind of information, but you have to know the person well to be able to get and store this information.
It is a matchmaking process that will ultimately reflect back on you, so you need to make sure that the connections you make have a chance of being successful. Will their work styles be compatible? Or will they make each other nuts!
One thing the Internet does help with is helping people get connected on their own. I can quickly get hyperlinks to lots of resources and pass that along. This is particularly helpful if you either don’t know someone for this particular referral, or you are reluctant to make a referral for whatever reason (don’t know them well enough, know them all TOO well).
Yes, referrals can be a wonderful thing. I am not talking about sites like Referral Key. I am talking about referrals with no expectations. Referrals because you want to help a good person connect with another good person.
So, the answer is, “Yes!” I usually know someone I can recommend. But it would be helpful for us all to really know each other, so that these referrals can be meaningful and successful.