Approaching the referral ask


I would like to talk about referrals!

As a CSM on the job hunt I am told that my best chance at scoring an interview is through a referral, but how do I go about doing that?

Who do you ask? Where do you look? HOW do you ask??

Having been on the networking game for some time now I am still finding myself struggling with not just how to make the ask for a referral. But more importantly how to make the RIGHT connections that can lead to something.

So I ask, what works and what doesn't work?


  • BenB
    BenB Member Posts: 76 Expert
    5 Insightfuls Name Dropper Combo Breaker First Comment

    Great questions @Ajgruber

    Here is what I would try:

    1. Create a list of target companies: Determine what type of company you want to work for (platform, region, culture etc...). Shoot for your dream CS job - what company would support that dream.
    2. Find Connections within your target list: Once you have a list of companies start working through 3-5 at a time. Use LinkedIn to see if you have any 1st or 2nd hand connections. Your connections to the company do not have to be in your ideal department. Message your 1st hand connections asking them if you're willing to chat about their experience at the company. Tell them it seems exciting and you're trying to investigate what is out there while on your job search journey. For 2nd hand connections start a conversation with them to catch-up and then tell them you're starting your job search and interested in xyz company, and if they're willing to do an introduction to their direct connection at that company.
    3. Connection Conversation: Once you're talking with a person at your target company this is your chance to learn and shine. Ask great questions and be sure to listen with intent. Be confident in your history, experience, and value. You're not going to be going through your resume, but you want the other person to start visualizing how well you would fit into the company.
    4. Ask for the referral: Now that you've made a connection within the company and established you would be a good fit - be specific with your ask. "I'm really interested in learning more and maybe even working together. I'm looking for a job in Customer Success and was hoping you could introduce/recommend me to xyz" Your goal is to set up an intro with someone in that department who hires or influences the hiring manager. Another option is to have your initial connection simply connect you with a person closer to the job itself. So maybe you connect with someone in marketing - who connects you with someone in CS - who then connects you with the Manager of CS Operations...
    5. Think good thoughts: People like to help. I wouldn't worry to much about how you ask because if someone is helpful as long as you're clear - they'll help :). Also, remember many people completely ignore LinkedIn, so don't get discouraged by the non-responses.

    Hopefully, this is helpful and I think it is a much better strategy than blindly applying for jobs. and if anything I said didn't make sense just let me know :)

  • rdesmarais
    rdesmarais Member Posts: 14 Navigator
    First Comment 5 Insightfuls Photogenic

    A referral is the by-product of a good network. Ideally, your network is aware you are looking for work and they will offer themselves as a referral if you are looking for a role with their organization. Conversely, you are actively looking for work with employers for whom you have 1st level contacts in your network (LinkedIn is very helpful with this) and you are reaching out to those contact(s) requesting their help with a referral.

    I can't stress enough that when you are asking someone in your network for a referral, it is preferable that you have been in some form of regular contact with that individual. You need to care for and nurture your network like a gardener tending his plants. If you are asking someone in your network for a referral but you've not been in contact with them for 7 years, your request for help may come across as self-serving and shallow.

    Finally, if you are expecting someone whom you do not know for a referral, that's going to be a challenge because they cannot vouch for you. They are not familiar with you as a person nor a professional and I generally advice against doing this unless you've been fortunate enough to form a sincere bond with that individual and the really do wish to help you.