I often give referrals to folks looking for help (typically software development, but it could be any other area where I feel I know someone that could help another person or company out). It’s a great way to help out both parties.

However, a referral is not a referral is not a referral. Here are the seven types of referrals I have made.

  1. I have worked with this person/company directly, would do so again, and they’ve solved your problem before. I’d hire them if I could, you should.
  2. I have worked with this person/company directly, would do so again, and believe they can solve your problem. I’d hire them if I could, you should.
  3. I have interacted with this person/company in the real world in a non professional capacity and they seemed like “good people”, and might be able to help with your problem. Probably a good idea to talk to them.
  4. I have interacted with this person/company (online/offline) and they seem to know what they are doing. You may want to put them into your decision matrix.
  5. This person responded to a post I put up somewhere (maybe HN) and I like the fact they read it and responded. It’s worth looking at their resume.
  6. I have seen this person’s/company’s blog post or marketing material. They seem like they’d be worth a look.
  7. I do not know this person but they have been recommended by another person that falls into one of the above categories. May be worth a shot?

Obviously the closer to category one a referral is, the more I feel I can stake my reputation on a successful interaction. Lower down, it is less a referral and more of an informational service.

The important part in all this is being clear at what level you are interacting. You don’t want to hand someone a referral of level two and have them think it is a level five. Or vice versa.

 

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