A Referral vs. an Introduction. Which is better?
Posted by Molly Wendell // in Job SearchNetworking
About two weeks ago, my friend Alex told me he was very excited because he spoke with an ex-colleague and that person was going to make an introduction to a CEO friend of his. I said that’s great. Two weeks ago? That may not seem like a long time when you’re working, but life in the job search is a lot like dog years, and two weeks seems more like two months (or even two years). I asked Alex what he was waiting for, and he told me that his friend would get back to him as soon as he had a chance to make the introduction.
This was Alex’s best lead for a position. And he just put all of the control and ownership of it into someone else’s hands (and more importantly, on someone else’s timeline). And he doesn’t want to pester his friend too much for fear that he’ll lose the introduction (and yes, that can happen!).
What should he have done? Instead of getting an introduction, Alex might have better positioned himself with a referral. What’s the difference? An introduction is when someone does just that – “introduces” you to someone…and controls the conversation by controlling your ability to connect with a contact. A referral is when you get someone’s name from a friend or acquaintance, and you control the conversation by owning the followup. What if they don’t give you the person’s phone number. Big deal! Ask where the person works, and pick up the phone and call their office.
I’m sure Alex’s friend would have been fine with letting Alex control the followup. If for some reason, your friend is complete control freak and really really really wants to make the introduction, then take this approach. Tell them you really appreciate it, and you’ll plan to follow up directly with the referral by [name a date that is within 5 business days]. Therefore, if they haven’t had time to control the introduction, you’re not stuck in a position of wasting your precious dog years away.