By Rieva Lesonsky
Are you looking for employees, part-timers or even freelancers to help your small business carry its workload? Whatever option you’re considering, there’s one way of finding good workers that works great: using referrals.
I was reminded of the power of referrals recently when I read this blog post on BNet.com in which entrepreneur Grant Powell shares how he pulled together a standout team of creative people using referral hiring.
Referrals in hiring have always worked for me. Today, when so many of us use social networking tools like Facebook and LinkedIn to find people, it may seem like hiring with referrals is a no-brainer. But here are some tips that make this method work even better.
Know the source. If you put the word out on social media, you may get lots of referrals, and that’s great. But consider where those referrals come from. How well do you truly know that LinkedIn connection or Twitter follower—and how well do they know you and your business? People who have nothing to lose may throw out any old referral in an effort to “be helpful.” The best referrals come from people who know what type of worker you want on your team and what your standards are.
Enlist your employees. Your current staff is one of your best sources of referrals—after all, they’re on the inside of your business and know how things work. Encourage referrals by offering some type of incentive, such as a cash bonus or a day off with pay, for a referral that leads to a successful hire. (Note the key word “successful.”)
Consider contractors. Just like employees, your independent contractors can be a key source of referrals. Mindful that they could ruin their relationship with you if they refer you to a dud, they’re likely to be very careful about whom they refer. However, keep in mind that contractors don’t want to refer themselves out of a gig—so be sure you ask contractors only for referrals to people who aren’t competitive with them. For instance, if you are looking for a marketing copywriter or website designer, you could ask a graphic designer that you regularly use, since graphic artists regularly team with these types of people on projects.
Don’t ignore standard operating procedure. Just because someone is referred by your best employee, your top contractor or even your mom doesn’t mean you should ignore the essential steps of checking references, thoroughly interviewing the person and making sure he or she is qualified. In fact, it’s even more important to take these steps so your relationship with the person who referred the employee doesn’t go south if the employee fails to work out.
If you follow these steps, referral hiring can be a great way to find workers who are a perfect fit with your company’s needs and goals.
Image by Flickr user spring stone (Creative Commons)Google+