Your Referral Network
About 85% of all jobs are filled through employee referrals. Therefore, it makes sense to build a referral network at every company where you might like to work in the future.
Before you read on, this is the fourth in this series on the Targeted Job Search. If you have not read the previous steps this is a good time to read the entire targeted job search series.
I have written about building and researching your target list. You connected to recruiters inside your target companies, primarily to have closer connections to their employees via LinkedIn. Now it is time to build your referral network.
Using LinkedIn advanced search, locate employees with similar job titles and certifications and develop a list of potential new connections.
At this point you can take several different strategies:
Strategy #1 – Look for a Common Connection
You now should have a list of people with each target company that can refer you to the company. These could be 1st-degree connections, (people you already know), 2nd-degree connections, (people who are connected to people you know), and 3rd-degree connections, (people who you are very loosely connected on LinkedIn.)
For now, we will focus on 2nd-degree connections.
For each 2nd degree person on your list, look to see how you are connected on LinkedIn. Ask one of your common connections how well they are acquainted and would they be willing to make an introduction?
If they do not know the person well or are unwilling to make an introduction move on to your next common connection.
What you are looking for is a personal introduction. In the sales world, this is referred to as a warm lead.
What if you have exhausted your common connections? If that is the case, you will make this a cold lead and treat them like a 3rd-degree connection which we will discuss in Strategy #4.
Strategy #2 – Systematically Look at LinkedIn Profiles
Every day, look at multiple LinkedIn profiles on your list. The LinkedIn setting called “Profile Viewing Options” should be set to display your name and headline. This is also called Profile Visibility.
Do not look at hundreds of profiles every day but just a few. There were several commercial programs that would automate this process for you but they violated LinkedIn’s user agreement and therefore, most if not all, are out of business.
After you look at a few profiles on your target list, you will want to check to see who looks at your profile. Think of this is like being in a crowded bar and you are trying to catch the eye of someone of the opposite sex. If they look at you, you can then consider approaching them to start a conversation. Job search is just like dating and marriage.
When someone pokes their head into your profile, send them a LinkedIn connection request and ask for AIR – Advice, Insights, and Recommendations!
Once they have looked at your profile, you are no longer an unknown. They should recognize your name and know a little bit about you.
Strategy #3 – Cold Connection Request
What if the connection is a 3rd-degree connection or you exhausted your common connections trying to get an introduction? You will need to make a cold connection request.
You probably get many of these every week. Someone sends you a connection request and you say to yourself “do I know this person?”.
When making these types of requests there are two things you must do:
- Include a personal note
- Make a simple request
You will want to make this personal and ask the recipient for something that is easy for them to do. Here is a good example of a LinkedIn request.
George, (use their first name)
I am very interested in learning more about the marketing area of xyz company where you work. Would it be possible to have a quick phone call (5-10 minutes) for us to speak so I could ask some questions and solicit some advice?
I look forward to hearing from you and in the meantime, please accept this invitation to connect.
I did not ask to meet for a cup of coffee or have lunch, I just wanted to have a quick phone call. I also used the magic word “advice”.
I also added the request to accept this invitation to connect.
If you precisely word cold connection requests they have a high probability of being accepted.
Whether you use strategy #1, #2 or #3, the idea is to get to meet each person and develop a relationship. You are looking for an internal advocate so that, when a position becomes available, they will be willing and able to pass your resume through company channels.
This takes time and persistence. If you spend 15-30 minutes reaching out to new connections and meet one new person week, you will build a significant referral network in just a few months.
As you build your referral network, it is equally as important to maintain that network through careful and persistent cultivation.
The goal is to have a referral network at every company on your target list.
We know that people change jobs every few years. You will want to review your target list to check who is working at each company every six months.
If you carefully follow all of the steps in the Targeted Job Search, you will have choices in where you work for the rest of your career.
To read the rest of the Targeted Job Search series click here.
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I really like your strategy of targeting the company. I am really glad I stumbled upon your LinkedIn article ‘Target the Company and Quit Chasing the Job’. I have a few questions about the mechanics of all this.
‘You are looking for an internal advocate so that, when a position becomes available, they will be willing and able to pass your resume through company channels’
My question is how does this work exactly?
1. How do you know that a position has become available? Do you find it on a job board? Do you rely on them to learn about it and contact you?
2. If the latter, how can you be sure your advocate will a) know about the job if they work in a big company and may not be aware of all the goings on in other departments and b) what if they know about the job but assume you are not interested for whatever reason?
Any insights you may have would be helpful. Thank you!
Marc Miller says
Answer to how do you know. You would hope they would call or e-mail you. If you spot something on the job board of company website, you contact your reference and ask them to pass in your resume BEFORE applying.
You advocate will not know everything. That is why you will need to be vigilant.
“What if they know about the job but assume you are not interested for whatever reason?”
Make sure you are clear on the types of positions you are interested. The more specific you can be the better.
I hope this helps!