When former employees, students, or colleagues ask for a reference, I consider it an honour. When friends and family ask for a referral, I’m more than happy to provide my insight or opinion.
When candidates or product brands, etc. get an unsolicited endorsement from me, I consider this to be an arms-length extension of my relationship with the person, my belief and support of their capabilities and vision, or a true reflection of my experience with a particular product or service.
All these references, referrals, and endorsements are freely given without the want or desire for anything in return.
However, I’ve often contemplated how my reference of an employee who worked for me a dozen years ago can still be valid, or what weight my referral holds versus someone else’s, or if endorsements really do convey the intended message, usually of trust, reliability, accountability, or similar. All of which are given in hopes of persuading someone. A call to action of sorts.
In it’s simplest form, a reference is evidence of your own ideas, arguments, and opinions and allows others a point of reference. A referral may assist someone else from having to do their own research, or ask so many questions, as they seek to rely on background information you’re providing them with, good or bad. An endorsement is basically a form of support or approval, oftentimes aligned specifically to political campaigns, candidates, or product brands.
Pivoting, if you haven’t had an opportunity to watch ‘The Upside’, a movie, based partly on the true story of quadriplegic millionaire Philippe Pozzo di Borgo, you should. The reference is rooted in the interview process where Philippe decides to hire Abdel Sellou (Dell), a struggling parolee.
Or how about the overwhelming number of brands that are seeking stronger connections with consumers, which has required them to change the marketing strategy by using newer technology and implementing deliberate strategies centred around authenticity and innovation?
Think ‘Brand Ambassador.’
Brand Ambassadors have a significant opportunity to influence others to support a brand that provides quality products, authenticity, and trustworthiness. They also provide brands with the ability to empower consumers, especially on social media platforms, inspiring others to buy into this forward-thinking approach and support a brand’s revenue-driven marketing strategy.
“I always have and always will cast my vote based on which candidate will protect and fight for the human rights I believe we all deserve in this country.”, wrote Taylor Swift. “If you don’t like who’s in there, vote ‘em out. That’s what Election Day is all about.”, sings Willie Nelson in a campaign song endorsing a Democratic Senate candidate.
Political endorsements are nothing new, but they aren’t always a sign of political beliefs or alignment; rather, sometimes, it’s just a marketing opportunity with underlying goals and objectives.
So, weigh the pros and cons when asking for a reference or referral, and consider the intent of an endorsement before offering or accepting one – as none of these guarantee success or a favourable outcome. Success is rooted in hard work, tenacity, accountability, and so much more.
Jacqueline Biollo is a strategic consultant, university educator, and former politician. She has written and received her share of references, referrals, and endorsements but thinks it’s important that individuals seek out the facts so that they are well informed and can make good decisions on their own.