Everyone likes to give and receive a recommendation or referral.

With my British upbringing, and being female, I don’t like to say “no” to people. Instead, I like to send people elsewhere when I genuinely believe someone else will be a better fit for their needs. In other cases, I’ll simply name the conditions that would work for me.

I’m also often asked for specific recommendations for translators or interpreters working in other language combinations. Or perhaps German- or Dutch-speaking copywriters. Or UX specialists. Or graphic designers. Or web developers. Or games journalists. You name it, I’ve probably had a cause to recommend people in the past. That’s part of why I have my Network page, after all – to speed up the process for the most common requests.

Some people seem to report not having a great success rate with the referrals they make. But when you look closer, that’s normally because they’re not putting the same effort in. Think: generic lists of names that just encourage the client to compare based on price. And that’s usually not the best way to find a real keeper.

So people, I beg you:

If you have an opportunity to refer or recommend others, make the most out of it.

There are no golden rules, but I will say my referrals do tend to result in paid work for whomever I referred – at least when I have a professional relationship or friendship with the person asking.

So here are some tips:

1. Pre-sort the selection:

Ideally recommend just one, maximum two providers.

If recommending people with comparable skills that are hard for an outsider to assess, do the pre-sorting for them. I usually recommend just one person, at most two. I’m more likely to add a second option if it’s urgent, or if there’s a difference in the two providers’ price and experience – in which case I make that clear.

2. Clarify availability

This can save everyone time.

Especially with freelancers and solopreneurs, make sure the provider can take on the job in advance before you recommend them. If perhaps they only have availability from or on a certain date, include that information. Same goes for how to contact them.

3. Clarify pricing differences

If there’s a big price difference somewhere, explain it.

It’s good to explain the difference if the recommended parties have very different prices to each other or to you. Provide information to help the client make an informed choice. Is the more expensive provider award-winning? More experienced? More qualified? Explain that. But then also explain why the other candidate is worthy of your recommendation. Perhaps they’re just a bit lower profile. Or perhaps they lack some bells and whistles that might not be needed for a simpler job.

4. Highlight the USPs

Summarise their relevant experience, skills, and capabilities.

If that legal translator is a bilingual ex-barrister, mention it. If that Italian copywriter worked on a similar campaign before, mention it. If that graphic design agency has experience in sustainability and produces nice clean designs, mention it.

5. Make it easier to choose

If you include more than one, mention if you’d favour one over another and why.

Perhaps one option is potentially a better fit – in which case, make sure that’s clear. If there are factors such as additional skills that may affect their decision, but you don’t know enough to judge, include that information.

6. Reveal the character

If you have worked with or recommended them before, share your feedback.

If you know that client likes friendly people, put their mind at ease. If you know the ability to work to tight deadlines and perform without drama is key, mention their professionalism. If you know they’ll be passionate about the project, say so. Help them to imagine what it’s like to work with them.

7. Include all details

Don’t leave it at the email address!

Include the provider’s website, LinkedIn, email address, and telephone number if available. Make it easy for your client to check them out before making a decision.

That’s generally how I go about it. Now get recommending!