ONE of the best ways to open the door to new opportunities is through a recommendation.

If a product you are selling is good and is recommended by your customers to their friends, they have practically sold the product for you.

If you provide a service, a good word from a reference makes selling a lot easier.

If you are looking for employment and are highly recommended to the employer, you have a greater chance of getting an interview.

The question is: How can you get yourself to the top of other people's "recommended list"?

Most people have a long list of individuals whom they recommend to others. This means you have to compete with all those candidates for that recommendation.

Recommendability factor

The recommendability factor is the sum of qualities you possess that makes a person willing to risk his reputation to promote you to others.

What is your recommendability factor? Are you at the top of people's lists when opportunities arise?

Regardless of the industry that you are working in or the types of opportunities you are seeking, there will be people you know who can introduce you to others who can help fulfil your objectives.

The trick is to get yourself on the recommended list of the people you know.

Let's say you are working in the financial services industry. It is very likely that a person knows an average of two to four people with careers in the financial services industry.

If someone wishes to purchase some financial products and asks one of your close friends to recommend a financial adviser, are you the first person your friend would recommend? After all, he does know quite a few other financial planners.

You need to understand that for your friend, the worst fear of recommending you to others is that his reputation is at stake.

If you do a bad job or eventually fall out of favour with the customer, the customer will turn to him and say, "Why did you recommend this person to me?"

Not only does the customer now think poorly of you, he may also have a different impression of your friend who recommended you.

Topping the list

To be at the top of your friends', colleagues' and business contacts' lists - in other words, to be a "people magnet" - here are some great attributes to acquire:

For business

* Reliability - deliver what you promise and do it on time;

* Competency and quality - be professional and meet the quality standards expected of you; and

* Likeability - be adaptable, flexible and well-mannered.

For social opportunities

* Sincerity,

* Reliability, and

* Likeability (charisma).

For sophisticated social opportunities

* Good dress sense,

* Great social skills,

* Intelligence, and

* Sincerity.

The qualities listed here are not exhaustive. However, without them, you may wonder why some opportunities do not come your way.

Have you ever experienced not being recommended for a certain job or invited to a social outing by a contact of yours?

One reason is that he may have feared risking his reputation by recommending you or bringing you to a social function.

If you find that your peers have a higher recommendablity factor than you, reflect on why this is so.

Note your flaws and correct them. For example, you may have a reputation for being offensive, insensitive, boring or irritating. Or, perhaps, you may have poor grooming habits.

Being aware of these factors is a great starting point for making improvements in these areas. Work on your weaknesses and acquire the people-magnet qualities that are suggested.

If people do not feel comfortable recommending you, take it as constructive feedback and an opportunity to change and move forward.