References and Intros
Everyone wants them, few know the difference. Even fewer know how to get them.
A less than stellar question was asked at Thursday Night Sales about how to get people to introduce you to others. I say that because this question gets asked at least once every show we do, and it seems like the answer is just not sinking in. The question was about references, but we couldn’t tell if he was talking about introductions or a job reference. It was frustrating because of its lack of clarity and redundancy.
So what’s the difference? They are used interchangeably a lot, but they’re distinct. A reference is when someone goes to bat on your behalf to open [or close] a conversation about a potential job, by leveraging their clout within their network. This involves the person giving the reference feedback on your work ethic, skills, and abilities. While I’ve told people to come to me even if you don’t know me, the reference is clearly easier if I do know you.
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An introduction is when someone goes to bat on your behalf to open a conversation about what you do with a party who might find use in your solution, again, by leveraging their clout within their network. Introductions are easiest when you cultivate a network that also sells into your ICP, and you make friends with people who have been working your ICP for longer than you have. (Add value by being an SDR to your networking partners and spend time giving a shit about what they like and become their friend.)
References = new jobs.
Introductions = qualified leads to closed deals.
Why does knowing the difference matter? It matters because the approach and the considerations are different between the two of them. For a successful reference or intro you need to understand how to craft the message, who you’re using as a contact, who your contact is reaching out to and what your desired end result is. You’ll approach answering the questions above, in different ways. Just like researching prospects, research your person and who you’re asking them to contact. Make sure it’s a good fit.
It also matters because you’ve been in a position before where you KNEW if you had someone on the inside you could have had a decent shot at the job or winning someone’s business. But, you didn’t know how the hell to ask someone, you probably talked yourself out of it, and the opportunity drifted by. Don’t be that person again. Take ownership of your desired outcomes, cultivate the network you need to achieve them, then take action.
How to ask for a reference
Have all of your information pulled together ahead of time. Even someone who knows you well, probably doesn’t know your sales metrics, or have a copy of your resume. Update everything, and have it ready to go. Your goal is to make it as easy as possible for your contact to promote you as the best free agent available today.
Factors to consider:
1) What’s the relationship of your contact to the company you want?
2) Are you actually qualified for the job you’re asking for?
3) Timing - Is the company currently hiring for the position?
4) Have a why, and be prepared to share that with your contact.
5) Now that you know, don’t apply for a job again. Use your network to get you the job you want.
How to ask for an introduction
Write the introduction for your contact as if you are them. State what value the solution brings, what the solution is, and why the connection is a good fit. Your contact and your prospect are busy, so make this as easy as possible for them. Pay attention to the level of decision maker they are reaching out to and craft your intro to match. Your contact will amend things if they want it to be even more in their voice. Provide your one pager, and a few open dates/time to talk.
Factors to consider:
1) Who is the intro going to?
2) What’s the relationship of my contact to the other person?
3) Do you have enough rapport with your contact to ask?
Build out and cultivate your partners. Diversify your top of the funnel prospect streams. A steadily growing network, that produces a few quality intros a month, will multiply down your pipeline into closed deals. Both references and intros utilize someone else’s network to provide an opportunity to you. When was the last time you looked at the people in your network and assessed their potential value to your professional future? Oh you haven’t? You’ve been accepting or adding every Tom, Dick and Henrietta? Cut that out. Make your network work for you. FYI, I’m part of your network. Put us to work.
If you’re looking for a job, reach out. Several of my clients are hiring for a variety of revenue producing roles.Come prepared, put in the effort, and we can figure something out.
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