As a young professional, you must always have an active list of people who can provide you with solid references. Now, in a best case scenario, your résumé gets through the computer system, you do great on the interviews, and whoever is hiring you says you’ve got the job as long as your references check out.
And, guess what? They check out. So you owe your new $35,000 or $350,000 or $3.5M job to who? Your wonderful references. And they did it out of the goodness of their hearts. They don’t expect a thing outside of a thank you. But how about you surprise them? Take your references out to lunch. In my case, one lives in New York and so I am sending him a Starbucks gift card. Now, you don’t have to spend $100 thanking the person but you should give them something that will put a smile on their faces.
References are professional contacts but, often, they’re also friends. I am a firm believer in giving people their flowers while they can smell them. So say thank you in a way that is sacrificial because this person’s reference just put you closer to your ultimate professional goal.
Make professional development a priority.