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Guest Post: Handling a Referral in a Job Search

With the economy headed south and tech feeling the pressure, many of you may soon be looking for a job. The best path is through a referral from a former colleague or friend. That's how I landed my current role at (which is hiring developers and others in San Francisco). Another way to help yourself is to work with a professional coach who can help guide your search - just like any other consultant, you have to find a good one for it to be of value. I recently talked about what recruiters need to do when cold calling. Here is a guest post by Dilip Saraf, a career coach, who comes highly recommended - on his experience with referrals.

As a career coach I have well-placed clients who are in executive positions at prominent companies in the Silicon Valley and elsewhere. I also have an extensive network on LinkedIn carefully cultivated over the years, which is my stock-in-trade. So, when a client is looking for an opportunity at a company where I have some inside connection(s) I am always happy to introduce them to each other and let them take it from there.

The other day, an up-and-coming executive client was interested in getting into a growing company that has made a big name in the Valley and that had an open position that he was very interested in. I also had a senior executive at this company who has been my client and who was willing to help him navigate through the “entrance gate.” So, after I made the email introduction to them, I was hoping that the right things would transpire.

Well, they did not!

Without looking up the senior executive’s background, my client, who was in transition, sent him a short email asking him to look up both his LinkedIn Profile and the job that was open (of several) at his company, hoping to get a favorable response through this action. I was, of course, not aware of this and was quite surprised—and annoyed—when the senior executive suggested to me that my other client needed to be coached on how to handle such requests gracefully.

That got me thinking: How many times prospecting clients blow their introductions because they do not follow the most well-understood introduction etiquette, and not even know that they blew it; big time!

This etiquette requires that the person seeking a favor look up the contact and assess the tone in which he must handle the request, and all subsequent communication. Showing proper respect and consideration, the supplicant must show enough care so that they ingratiate themselves with the contact to help them get what they are seeking, making them feel good for having done a beneficial deed. This is the social lubricant that keeps the moving parts moving without squeaks. Doing so reflects well on the person who made the initial introduction in the first place, too!

In this specific instance, my client in transition should have been graceful in his initial contact and should have shown adequate respect for the inside contact to get what he wanted. Such opportunities are often a gateway into your personality and in how you handle matters that deal with building and sustaining important relationships. Consistent with this behavior was that the client whom I introduced did not even send me note of thanks for making this introduction! That is the last time I am going to introduce him to anyone else, unless he takes the coaching I gave him after this incident to heart!

So, those engaged in businesses that rely on introductions to other people to pursue their cause, please be mindful that, often, it is you that are making it easy for others to reject you.

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