ONE of the best ways to open doors 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 you are highly recommended to the employer, you have a greater chance of getting an interview than if you are not recommended.

The question is: How can you get to the top of other people’s recommended lists?

The fact is that they may have a wide list of people that they can recommend to others. You are in competition with all these people for that recommendation.

The recommendability factor

The recommendability factor is the quality you possess that makes people willing to risk their reputations to promote you to others.

Do you have the recommendability factor? Are you at the top of people’s recommended list when opportunities arise?

Regardless of the industry that you are working in, or of 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 lists of the people you know.

Let’s say you are working 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 he would recommend to that person? After all, he may know quite a few other financial planners.

To be at the top of your friend’s recommended list, you need to understand that his worst fear of recommending you to others is that the his reputation is at stake.

If you do a bad job or eventually fall out of favour with your customer, the latter will return to your friend and say: “Why did you recommend that person to me?”

Not only does your former customer now think poorly of you, but he may also have a negative impression of your friend who offered the recommendation.

To be at the top of other peoples’ recommended lists, here are some attributes you should have or strive to attain:

For business opportunities

* Reliability — you deliver what you promise and on time;

* Competency and quality — you exhibit professionalism and meet the quality standards expected of you; and

* Likeability — you are adaptable, flexible and well-mannered.

In social events

*Sincerity;

*Reliability; and

*Likeability (charisma).

In sophisticated social settings

*Good dress sense;

*Great social skills;

*Intelligence; and

*Sincerity.

This list of qualities is not exhaustive, but without them, you may wonder why some opportunities did not come your way.

If you find that many of your peers are more recommendable than you, reflect on the reasons why you are less so.

Note your flaws and correct them.

Perhaps you are offensive, insensitive, boring or irritating. Or you may have poor grooming habits.

Being aware of these failings is a great starting point for making improvements in these areas.

If people do not feel comfortable recommending you for a service or a job, welcome it as strong feedback and an opportunity to change.

Give people a chance to correct their first impressions of you.