Connection Friday: Who Would You Recommend?


Forget the clicks to endorse people on LinkedIn. The absence of friction often makes them fiction.

Say someone whose opinion you care about, or maybe someone whose influence can benefit you greatly, or perhaps you are looking to help fill a position in your own organization. In each of these cases, your recommendation holds weight and accountability with it.

On what would you base that recommendation?

Work and career have become such fluid concepts that each of us, whatever our position or ambitions, is in need of becoming a master at connecting.

Characteristics of good connectors

What characterizes good connectors?

Have had multiple careers

Thus they are familiar with the common elements that help people succeed in different environments. Among the side benefits of constantly learning new ways are:

  • gaining a sense of perspective
  • exercising humility
  • mastering diverse bodies of knowledge
  • being exposed to all kinds of cultures

A non linear resume or biography used to be a red flag. A sign you
lack a clear sense of purpose. Many organizations still see it that way.

I look for the common threads within the larger story. When they're there, I spot a connector.

Create value and impact by connecting

Is their guiding principle with ideas and people. The ability to see
and recognize patterns is part of identifying and making sense of growth
drivers. Good complements to a focus on value are:

  • being purposefully generous
  • communicating an authentic desire to be helpful
  • keeping promises with confidence
  • developing the ability to make better promises in the future

Master connectors who create value an impact, contrary to myth, are
not the super extroverts, or life of the party. In fact, quite a few I
know are fairly private people.

Connect to add, not take

Spot a serendipitous attitude and you know you've come across someone who possesses this characteristic. The intent that powers this approach manifests as:

  • driven by curiosity, not scarcity
  • thriving in moments of need
  • overcoming obstacles by virtue of reaching out to others
  • getting practice on taking chances

As I said for many years, find someone who in more interested than keen on coming across as interesting and you spot a master at connecting.

They are familiar with more than 100 verbs to connect.

Why connections do happen in real life

The main reason is when you're making a personal recommendation, you don't want it to come back and haunt you. There is no hiding in real life, and you could do serious damage to your own career and social standing by messing up.

Make the mistake of recommending someone without having worked with them or assessed their skills once, and you remember it for a long time. I did early on in my career. I can assure you from that point on, my due diligence was buttoned up.

When you have first hand knowledge of someone's work ethic, attitude, and skills/experience (in this order for me), make the introductions. Here's a post with some ideas on how to write a business recommendation, should you want to do that.

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A very important person comes to you looking for a recommendation. Who would you recommend? If the request is for a referral to fill a job with incentives? Would your criteria for recommending someone be the same, different? How different?

Conversely, would your contacts and network be comfortable recommending you?


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Valeria is an experienced listener. She is also frequent speaker at
conferences and companies on a variety of topics. To book her for a
speaking engagement click here.