I just cold-emailed a principal at a consulting firm for an informational interview request. Of course, I want him to refer me. He did reply, so nice of him. But he asked me which questions I want to ask and would try his best to answer. I feel awkward now. Should I mention my interest in recruiting opps directly and referral in my reply?
Question for principal
Strong NO. Moreover, the principal is not even incentivized enough to make you a reference. (Referral bonus compared to his salary).
So I just recommend to relax and really make it an informational session. And let's see how it goes.
I would absolutely not ask for a referral right of the bat: he doesn't know you, and wouldn't want to invest his political capital. Even if he "recommended" you, this would likely have little to no weight if you haven't at least met.
Definitely focus on your other questions: understand the company, his experience, his advice...
Hey there, I would not ask for a referral directly. However, mentioning your interest and talking about yourself in this context is ok, as you do need to sell yourself. Ideally though you would need to move the conversation off email to actually have a chance at a referral - either meet for a coffee or do a phone call. Before asking for a referral, it would also be a good idea to first ask for either tips, or if they could review your CV (although a principal is too senior for this, this last advice would apply more if you contacted an AC/Consultant).
I also wouldn't put all my eggs in one basket, and try reach out to others - youre more likely to get a referral from a junior, even though it obviously has less weighting.