you don’t necessarily need to contact partners to get referrals. Principals or project leaders would work well if you have 4 years of experience only - in this way you can get an equivalent good referral and higher conversion rate of your email.
Since you do not have any current direct contacts in the firms you are interested in, I would suggest following the following three-step approach:
1. Identify who are the people who can more easily help you
2. Write them a customized email
3. Have a call with the consultant, and indirectly ask for a referral
As general tips:
- Don’t use LinkedIn for your communication – emails work a lot better. There are several tool nowadays that allow to get very quickly the email of someone. You should target at least 30% conversion for your messages – if you are not achieving that there is space for improvement in your message.
- When you write to your target connections, your goal should not be to ask questions, rather to organize a call. Then in the call you should ask the right questions to create a link with them.
- Whatever questions you ask during the call, you should have a closing question to ask (indirectly) for the referral. Don’t leave that to chances.
You should prepare three main things before the call:
- Your own pitch, highlighting who you are in 3-4 key sentences. Previous /experience with relevant brands/companies would be great to show you are qualified
- 3-4 questions, focused on the personal experiences of the person (and not on the company only). Ideally you should try to learn as much as possible about the contact before. Relevant information will come out also from the first questions. Your goal here is to have a conversation and not a Q&A session.
- Closing question for referral. You should ask (in an indirectly way to avoid to be too pushy) for a referral at the end of the call. If you did a good job with the questions before and you have something in common (eg former alumni, common connections…) the consultants will likely offer to refer you. If you don’t ask for a referral, they may not volunteer to offer one. When you organize such calls, the consultants knows you are having the call because you are interested in a referral, and since they accepted to have it, if you perform well and ask indirectly you can definitely receive one.
Please feel free to private message me if you have more questions.