From software resellers to consulting partners to yourself, everyone likes to be recognized for good work. Sometimes, you might be asked to do a referral for companies that you’ve worked with on a particularly successful project. This activity can have several benefits that are well worth pursuing.

Keep in mind though that when doing a referral, you are essentially a spokesperson for a 3rd party or your own company. Be sure that you can back that company with your own reputation!

Always check with your management chain before doing a referral. If your manager isn’t comfortable with this or if it is against corporate policy, check with the vendor to see if your company name can be made confidential. If so, you might still be able to participate!

Helping Your Company
If you are having issues convincing management to participate in a referral, you should consider how a referral can help your own company. It’s easy to move on from a successful project and forget about external partners that have helped you. In IT, this can happen as you move into the long term support model. Down the road though, you might find yourself in a situation where you might need that same external partner to help you again on a future project.

Providing this partner with a good referral that helps them generate business with another company could help your own company negotiate better discounts on pricing in the future and can drive a closer relationship with a talented organization that will only understand your company better as time goes on. Not only that, but if you might be standardizing on a software platform with this partner, you can lower costs across the long term through this standardization.

Helping Another Company
Sure,  you’ll be helping the partner you are doing the referral for by generating new business, but you will also help the company you talk to! This is one example of where you need some sales acumen. Every company is different and while you’re talking about your own challenges and achievements, keep in mind that they may not be applicable to that company. Ask questions that pull out the details and think about how you can tailor your answers to just what is relevant to them. You could drive them to success in their venture.

This reason is mostly altruistic, but can still benefit you. If the referral is with another business in your industry, it might be beneficial to see how they deal with common problems that you may have. This open dialog could point you in the direction of solving a major pain point.

Helping Yourself
So, what does all of this do for you? For one thing, you become the driver and a champion for a (potentially) strong partner at your organization. You can also gain new knowledge about how other companies operate and find new opportunities for improvements in your own processes. These conversations help develop leadership and communication skills if done right.

The referral process can also be a powerful networking tool. You will gather new contacts in industries similar to yours or ones using similar technologies, which can help further your own career.