What Is a Business Reference? (Requesting a Business Reference & Examples)


In our professional career, there might be many occasions/situations when we require a recommendation from a trusted individual for a prospective employer. This type of recommendation is known as a business reference. A business reference is very important because it helps the employee to verify and assess an applicant’s job skills, personal character, and past performance on the job. A well-written business reference from a credible professional can give you an edge over other candidates in a job interview.

Key Takeaways

  • In most cases, when you are trying to close a deal with a new client, the client could ask for a business reference
  • You can get a business reference from your previous clients, vendor, or business associates
  • If your previous clients give you good references then it can help you secure new work quickly
  • If you can provide three or four good business references then it will increase your chance of getting new work or completing the deal with the new client

What Is A Business Reference?

A business reference is a recommendation from a business client, vendor, or other business associate or business contact. A new client might ask you to provide a business reference letter from the old client to verify the quality of your work. A business reference can be a written letter or verbal communication. If your previous clients give you good references then it can help you secure new work. A business reference must include detail about your referrer’s relationship to you, what type of service you have provided, and their opinion of you and your work. Whether you are applying for a new job or dealing with new clients, if you can provide three or four good business references then your chance of becoming successful will increase a lot. Even, a single business reference can make a huge difference.

Who To Ask For A Business Reference?

You should try to get a business reference from contacts with that you have a positive professional relationship. If you are getting a reference from an individual with that you have worked closely then they can easily vouch for your skills and professionalism. Below are some good candidates for a business reference – 

1. Supervisors from past or current jobs

2. Professional mentors

3. Professors (if you are a graduate with no work experience)

Your recent professional contacts are the most convincing and important for business reference. Moreover, if you use recent referrals then the new potential employer will know that you’ve sustained positive working relationships in the old job. Moreover, it will also indicate that you have positive characteristics and you have the skill to adjust to any situation and you also have good communication skills. 

How To Ask For A Business Reference

There are some etiquettes of asking for a business reference. If you can ask properly for a business reference then your chance of getting a good reference also increases. When you are asking for a business reference you should follow the below steps – 

1. Identify the best contact method

2. Approach your contact quickly

3. Clearly explain the reference requirements

4. Provide relevant background information

5. Clarify how you will use the reference

6. Thank your contact for their reference

Identify The Best Contact Method

You must identify the best contact method for approaching your potential referrer. Here, your relationship with the referrer will help you decide on a convenient contact method. The best contact method is person-to-person, if possible. Because, in person, you will be able to discuss everything with the referrer, there won’t be any miscommunication. If in-person contact is not possible then you can email to ask for a business reference.    

Approach Your Contact Quickly

When you require a business reference, contact the potential referral as early as possible asks them you require a reference. Because advance notice will give the referrer enough time to think about your positive qualities and notable achievements. Moreover, if you need a company recommendation then the referrer will need more time to compose the recommendation letter.      

Clearly Explain The Reference Requirements

The reference can be a written one or verbal, therefore, you must clearly explain the requirements of your reference. This will help you avoid any kind of confusion. If you need a verbal reference then you should try to arrange a meeting with the referrer. Moreover, you should ask for your referrer’s preferred contact method. If you have the information of when the potential new customer/employee will contact the referrer then you should also provide that information. On the other hand, if you need a written reference then you should inform the referrer of the due date of your business reference. Ask the referrer when he/she will be able to complete the recommendation letter and when and how you will be able to collect it. If possible then, collect the reference letter in person and thank the referrer. If not possible then ask him/her to send the letter via email. Don’t forget to express your gratitude.    

Provide Relevant Background Information

When you are asking for a recommendation letter make sure you provide relevant background information so that your referrer will be able to develop a customized and persuasive recommendation/reference letter that will demonstrate how good you are as a candidate or how good your business is. You should share the following information – 

1. Information about the new job, what position you are applying for, etc.

2. Information about the potential new employee, company, company mission, etc.

3. Information about your previous job, role, and responsibilities

4. Information about what skills or achievements you want to include

5. Information about notable professional experiences (if there is any)

Clarify How You Will Use The Reference

You must clarify how you will use the reference letter because it will help the referrer understand how they should customize the letter. You must inform, whether you will use the recommendation letter for one specific job or several jobs. Moreover, if you want to publish the reference online then you should ask the referrer if he/she is ok with that.   

Thank Your Contact For Their Reference

You must understand that composing a business reference takes time, so make sure you thank the person who is giving you the reference. If possible, collect the reference in person and thank the person and show your appreciation. If in-person contact is not possible then you should write a thank you card or email to express your gratitude. This will help you to build a nice relationship with the referrer and in the future, it might come in handy.

Business Reference Letter Example

Business Reference Letter Example (Text version)

James Smith

Sparkleshine Cleaning Service

321 Business Ave.

Business City, NY 54321

Dear Mr. Smith,

It is with much enthusiasm that I am writing to recommend the services of the Sparkleshine Cleaning Service.

I have been using Sparkleshine to clean my offices for the past five years and have always been completely satisfied with their performance. They do an excellent job, are always punctual, and offer the most competitive rates in town.

We have also hired them on occasion for extra jobs, such as cleaning after a move, cleaning the Venetian blinds, deep cleaning the kitchenette, etc. They have been very reasonably priced, and always do exactly what we ask of them.

I’m happy to recommend the services of Sparkleshine. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.


Signature (printed letter)

Stuart Lee  

Email Business Reference Example

Subject: Stephen Davison Reference

Dear Ms. O’Malley,

I have been acquainted with Stephen Davison for three years, in his capacity as a web designer for my small business. He completely overhauled my website and has been responsible for its ongoing maintenance and search engine optimization as well.

Stephen’s design and optimization, I believe, are largely responsible for the dramatic increase in traffic to my site, and for the resulting increase in profits for the business. He is easy to work with, thinks creatively, and effectively communicates his ideas. He has been a true game-changer in identifying and enhancing the areas of my website that weren’t performing as well as they could have, and thus he has my highest endorsement.

If you have any additional questions or need clarification, please feel free to contact me.

Best regards,

Tawny Birkenstock

[email protected]



1. https://octahire.com/assets/octa_data/octa_hrpolicies/doc/Business_Reference_Template.docx

2. https://templatearchive.com/business-reference-letters/

FAQs About Business Reference

Business References

What are the parts of a business reference?

A business reference has seven parts. They are – 

1. The Heading

2. Recipient’s Address

3. The Salutation

4. The Body

5. The Complimentary Close

6. The Signature Line

7. Enclosures 

What Should Be Included In A Business Reference?

A business reference must contain the below information – 

1. The date

2. The writer’s contact information 

3. The recipient’s contact information

4. Professional salutation

5. The body of the letter

6. Professional closing

What Types Of Business References Are Important?  

There are four important types of references, they are – 

1. Employment references

2. Professional references

3. Academic references

4. Personal references

What Kind Of References Do Employers Want?

Usually, employers want a reference from – 

1. Recent bosses

2. Recent supervisors

3. Co-workers

4. Professors

5. Professional experts, etc.

Do Jobs Actually Call References?

Yes, the potential new employers do call the references. But, usually, it happens toward the end of the hiring process. The employers make a shortlist of candidates and then start calling references. They use the recommendation to decide between the last few candidates and finally hire the right person for the job.

References: 1 https://careertrend.com/facts-7525794-business-reference-job-application.html
References: 2 https://uk.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/business-reference

Last Updated on October 22, 2022 by Magalie D.

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