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Networking and Getting Referral on LinkedIn

Anonymous A asked on Jan 29, 2018 - 3 answers

Hello all,

I am trying to network on LinkedIn and trying to get referral but so far no response, would appreciate any help and advice on this matter,

The people i have been trying to connect to on LinkedIn are those who have similar connections on university and employer, and the following is the message i have been sending out. Is there anything i can do to, to be more successful in getting referral?


Hope all is well, I’m XXX and I found your contact on LinkedIn via mutual connection at (Uni/Past Employer/Etc), where I am (currently working/studied).

I noticed from your profile that you transitioned from XXX to a consulting environment, and that is what I aspire to do. Essentially I love to know more about how you got your start, and would like your advice on in subject matter. I understand if you're busy, so I only need about 15 minutes of your time for a phone chat? Alternatively I’m often in XXX during the weekends, so I’m happy to meet you wherever is convenient for you.

Thanks in advance for your attention and kind regards,


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replied on Feb 13, 2018
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Hi Anonymous,

That’s a good question, as if you improve the initial part of the funnel you can get definitely increase the number of offers you can receive. I would suggest the following to improve your chances:

  1. Don’t use LinkedIn for messages. Far better to use email directly to their Inbox. There are several tools that can help you to extract professional emails from a LinkedIn account
  2. Focus on university alumni. They are normally the most responsive.
  3. Your message comes a bit too pushy in the body. Would soft it, dividing the central part in two parts. In the first you can refer to your interest in his/her profile. In the second you ask for a time to talk.
  4. Acknowledge at the end you understand he/she may not have time to talk to you. This will actually increase conversion
  5. You should always send a followup after 1 week from the first message. If there are no replies there, move to the next contact.

If you send the right email through the right channel, you should get around 30% conversions in replies, including followups. If you don’t get that it means you are doing something wrong in the process.


replied on Jan 29, 2018
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Your e-mail is good, although Linkedin will have the low conversion rates. Here are some other ways to get a referral:

Here are some tips on how you can do that:

1) Leverage your own network - find friends or friends of friends who can practice cases with you or make you a reference.

2) Attend company events. Consulting companies do a lot of events both for graduates and experienced hires. Find the social network groups related to consulting or websites, subscribe to newsletters and stay tuned. Also, check if they have events in your University since you are a PHD.

While some of the events will be open to everyone, others will require a resume and a cover letter, so make sure to prep.

3) Talk to people on the events and send Thank You notes. After each event, there is a Q&A session where you can talk to consultants 1 on 1 or in a group. Ask for contact info or send a thank you note after the event ("I just wanted to thank you for visiting our University... It was especially interesting to hear about... Would be happy to keep in touch and apply in the nearest future.). Alternatively, you may use linkedin for that. If you are an experienced hire I strongly suggest to ask for a 1 on 1 meeting in a thank you note.

4) 1 on 1 meetings via Linkedin. All people like giving an advice. So don't hesitate to ask consultants for a career advice. Tell your story and ask how consulting fits into it.

5) Mock interview Depending on where you are in your prep process you may ask a consultant for a mock interview. Consultants are very much opened to help even if it is a cold call e-mail. The main problem is a lack of time on their side. So don't be afraid to remind about yourself if the consultant has already committed but finds it hard to find the time

6) Talking to partners If you are an experienced hire I suggest to talk directly to the partners in your industry or the partner responsible for experienced hires (in consulting partners also have additional roles). Get an intro from the HR or from your friends working there. Partners care a lot about experienced hires with relevant industry expertise. Chances to get referral are much lower though. They also will not be interested in giving mock interviews.

7) If you are an MBA graduate Just talk to your section mates and ask for a reference or a mock interview - they will be happy to help. Make sure you attend all the consulting events.

Good luck!

replied on Jan 29, 2018
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Your outreach letter looks good. My further advice would be:

- Don't give up, continue to expand your reach out to other current employees steadily but slowly (you do not want to become known as the "spammer" who reached out to all the consultant class over 48 hours

- Expand your reach to employees who recently left, they might act as a referral to former colleagues who still work for the consultancy you are interested in

- Pay attention not to reach out to same person twice to avoid to come across as agressive

- Use websites besides Linkedin that focus on networking and referrals (university alumni website, evisors, etc)

- Contact me privately with details of office you are interested to, I might be able to help

Hope it helps,