Think about that question again. I’m not asking about your company. I’m asking about you personally. The next time you are interviewing for a job, I want you to be able to say that your references are at Fortune 500 companies, not just previous employers.
Yes, it is important that previous employers will refer you. But think how valuable it would be to say in your next interviews – right out of the gate – that your references are at Wells Fargo. Or Bank of America. Or AOL. Or Facebook. Or … name your customer.
Imagine that you are hiring, and you interview 5 candidates from a list of 25 resumes. Three of them look about the same, two are marginal but you interview them anyway. In the interview, one of the candidate says that she has 3 customer references. Which person would you hire? The one who talks a good game, or the one with customer references?
Make it a priority to develop reference customers for you personally. Introduce yourself. Make a difference for them. Cultivate the contact. The difference for you at your next job change will be incredible.