A professional network is a powerful tool. When you forge strong connections with other professionals, you increase your odds of securing coveted job referrals. Considering how many positions are ultimately filled by referred candidates, ignoring a robust network’s power could mean missing out on an exceptional opportunity.
But even if your network is large, you also need to go about requesting referrals the right way. Otherwise, you may ask for help, only to fail to secure the desired responses. If you want to make sure you are approaching referrals properly, here are some points you need to consider.
Are You Looking for General or Targeted Referrals?
There are usually two approaches to requesting referrals. First, you could be asking members of your network to keep you in mind for opportunities they discover. With this, you don’t necessarily have a specific company you want to focus on, though you may have an ideal role or two you’d prefer. As a result, you’ll concentrate your efforts on connections that align with your industry or field, desired physical location, and similar preferences when you reach out to your network.
Second, you could be using a targeted approach. In this scenario, there’s a specific company you want to work for, necessitating an approach that differs from general requests. Here, you would scan your network for connections to that company. This could be people you know directly, as well as 2nd-degree connections elsewhere.
The kind of referral you want impacts the message you want to send to the identified connections. With general referrals, you should provide an overview of the type of role you want. With targeted, you need to be transparent about your goal to work for a specific company.
How Strong is the Relationship?
Asking for a referral is akin to asking for a favor. If your relationship with the other professional isn’t reasonably strong, there’s a good chance your request will be ignored.
Before you request a referral, consider whether the connection could support a referral request. If not, you’re better off focusing on building the bond first, increasing the odds that they’ll offer help down the line.
If you may need help from a 2nd-degree contact, then it’s best to enlist some assistance in building that connection. Ask your mutual contact if their relationship with the other professional is strong. If so, see if they would be willing to make an introduction.
With an introduction, the gap between you and the new contact is bridged. This makes it easier to facilitate further conversations that can build that bond, increasing the odds they will provide a referral in the future.
However, in any of the relationship-building scenarios, prepare to give as much as you receive. Compliment them on recent achievements, offer support when they need help, and otherwise add value to the relationship. By giving before you make a request, the odds that they’ll say yes when you ask for a referral go up dramatically.
Ultimately, your network is powerful, but only if you ask for referrals properly. Use the information above to refine your approach, ensuring you handle the request appropriately.
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