Seeking referrals should be an essential component of every professional’s career development plan. By definition, you’re seeking a referral when you ask a friend or acquaintance to introduce you to someone they know, as part of a broader effort to acquire information about an industry, organization, or job.
There’s an unspoken etiquette on seeking and giving referrals that best be followed to make the most of the experience. First, it’s vital to ask friends, colleagues, or acquaintances up front if you can use their name when reaching out to meet someone they know. On the one hand, this action is common courtesy, as I believe no one wants their name used without permission; more important, you ensure that your contact is ready to answer questions or respond to feedback about you that may be posed by the individual with whom you’re seeking to connect.
Second, follow up with your friend, colleague, or acquaintance to confirm you met their contact and to relay the substance of that encounter. Share your observations on whether you felt the person was responsive, and the extent to which the information and insight they provided was truly helpful. I know I find it incredibly useful to know what happens when people I connect actually meet, ideally to relish the fruits of my intervention but more importantly to assess the value of this connection and my ability to pair people for mutual benefit.