SERIES: References–Stewarding the Relationship
Part 2: Maintaining a Reference Pool
So last time, we talked about general ways to go about securing references for yourself. Today, we’re focusing on how you maintain a pool of references so you always have them at the ready. By taking this step, you accomplish a couple things. One, your references will never feel frustrated that they only hear from you when you need a reference. And two, you’ll never have to rush around last-minute trying to pull together a list of people who are willing to be your reference.
Steward the relationship
Thinking back to the last time someone helped you get a job offer by providing a reference, did you follow up with that reference to let them know the outcome? Hopefully, the answer is yes! Anytime someone has helped you, personally or professionally, they have some level of interest in seeing you succeed in whatever endeavor you are pursing. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be a reference for you! And since they are invested in your success, they will be elated to hear the big news and will feel good that they were able to help in some way.
The long-term outlook
And that initial step really segues nicely into the ongoing level of stewardship. Now that this reference knows that you got the job, keep them abreast on a regular basis. It doesn’t have to be weekly or monthly but just throughout the year at opportune times (we’ll cover this more in detail in a few moments). The regular contact is a chance for you to share how the role is going, changes in your role and promotions you receive, and maybe even some big news that your company is celebrating.
Staying in touch the easy way
You can certainly set up reminders in your calendar to remind you that it’s time to check in with your contacts. However, LinkedIn is really a great resource to help simplify the process for you.
First, make sure you are connected to your supervisors and coworkers—past and present. Once you are, the system makes it very easy for you to come up with reasons to reach out to your contacts to check in with them. You receive alerts when someone changes jobs, gets a promotion within the company, or when they have an anniversary. What a great time to send a message to congratulate them! And meanwhile, you can give them an update on how you’re doing as well.
In addition to these features, LinkedIn also allows you to endorse your contacts for their skills. And even better, those endorsements help to boost the value of their profile to other viewers, so your contacts will appreciate the kind gesture.
This isn’t meant to serve as the be-all, end-all list of reference stewardship, but it should help get you started on brainstorming some ideas. Whatever method you choose, what matters is that you find a way to build relationships for the long-term. Once you have that, asking for a reference will be effortless and instead feels like asking for a little help from an old friend.
Adam Lafield, Recruiter