Referrals 101: Five Easy Tips to Help You Network and Discover Top Talent

Referrals 101: Five Easy Tips to Help You Network and Discover Top Talent

Word of mouth is a powerful and often overlooked way to find great talent and fill open positions in your small business. Hiring expert Scott Wintrip is the author of High Velocity Hiring: How to Hire Top Talent in an Instant. Keep reading to learn how a referral system will help you find the perfect job candidates and keep your company going strong.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If there’s a “magic bullet” for effective networking and getting quality referrals, it’s this: Just ask for help.

“Just telling someone that you need help—even saying the word itself—creates an important dynamic,” says Wintrip. “It’s human nature for us to help one another. When you use the word ‘help,’ you’re reminding the person you’re asking of your shared humanity. This simple approach often paves the way for people to be generous in pointing you in the right direction.”

Realize a little goes a long way. Investing a few minutes each day in referral recon pays off in dividends. And it’s so easy it doesn’t even feel like work.

When a vendor stops by, ask for their help with referrals; at the local office supply store or that restaurant where you’re having lunch, network with the employees you meet; a phone call to a friend could turn into two or three candidate referrals. Small, quick inquiries such as these can turn into big wins when you find a great person to hire.

Get specific with qualities you’re looking for. Don’t just ask your contacts for referrals to people who are looking for a job, says Wintrip. Ask for referrals to the specific type of person you want to hire.

For example, if you’re looking for a store manager, you might say, “Who do you know who is good at managing a retail store? I’m looking especially for someone who listens more than they speak.” This precision helps the person you’re asking thoroughly “search” their mental Rolodex for the right person amongst the hundreds of people they know.

Don’t forget to ask your “obvious” networks for referrals. How often do you ask current employees for their help with candidate referrals? What about their family members or the previous employees who left your business on good terms? Have you asked your own family and friends to put you in touch with referrals they know?

“It’s easy to overlook the obvious resources for strong referrals,” says Wintrip. “But when we do this, we’re likely missing out on the insight of the very people who are most likely to want to help us.”

Remember the most important “rule” for attracting great talent. Wintrip says the best attractor of top talent isn’t high salaries or fancy titles; it’s being a great place to work. Make sure your business has a positive and engaging environment, and you’ll develop a reputation as an enjoyable place to work. Then when you network and request referrals, the people you ask will go out of their way to refer their friends and colleagues to you.

“Reaching out to the people you meet—as well as those you already know—can connect you with impressive talent,” concludes Wintrip. “Make referral generation a regular part of your managerial tasks, and before you know it, you’ll realize that good help is easy to find.”

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About the Author: 
Scott Wintrip has changed how thousands of companies across the globe find and select employees, helping design and implement a process to hire top talent in less than an hour. Over the past 18 years, he built the Wintrip Consulting Group (, a thriving global consultancy. Scott, the acknowledged leader of the on-demand hiring movement, is pioneering improved methods for recruiting and interviewing job candidates. For five consecutive years, Staffing Industry Analysts, a Crain Communications company, has awarded Scott a place on the “Staffing 100,” a list of the world’s 100 most influential staffing leaders. He’s also a member of the Million Dollar Consultant Hall of Fame and was recently inducted into the Staffing 100 Hall of Fame. Scott and his wife, Holly, live in St. Petersburg, Florida.

About the Book:
High Velocity Hiring: How to Hire Top Talent in an Instant (McGraw-Hill Education; April 2017; ISBN: 978-1-2598594-7-2; $30.00) is available at bookstores nationwide and from major online booksellers.

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