This is mostly based from my experience, but actually knowing someone from the company is quite beneficial. Whether they be someone in management or just a regular employee, there is value in connecting with an employee from a company that you want to work for.
TLDR: Show effort and be nice :)
Send a Personalized Invite
You’ve heard this one a thousand times, but I’ll say it for the thousand and first time.
I tend to accept *most* of my invites, but the ones who come with a personalized message make a better impression. When I was still job-searching, I sent a personalized invite to a speaker from an event, and the speaker invited me to an interview almost immediately.
If you’ve just attended an event, I recommend sending the invite immediately while the memory is still fresh.
Show Genuine Interest, Then Ask
Once they’ve accepted the personalized invite, show further initiative by starting the conversation! Be sure to do a quick look at the person’s profile before you start talking with them. If you ask a question that can easily be answered from their profile, then it doesn’t show much effort.
Additionally, if you want to eventually ask for a referral, do yourself a favor and show that you’re actually interested in the company. Show that you’ve done some research before reaching out.
You can show genuine interest by asking relevant questions regarding your connection’s specific role or any upcoming projects that you might have seen on the news.
This is one approach: “I see that you’re on Team X and I read a recent article about how Team X is going to launch Project Y. <Insert what interests you about Project Y.>”
Just by showing genuine interest, I’ve been referred even without having to ask for a referral! Just be sure to bring the same interest to your interviews.
Once you think that you’ve made a good impression, it’s time to ask. It’s easy to feel shy but hey, it’s for your career!
Most Importantly, Be Nice Regardless of Results
Honestly, I’ve referred some of my connections because they’re really nice people and I saw their interest in the firm.
I think some people only reach out to me in hopes of getting a referral but if I don’t see genuine interest, then I just have to reject them. And you might have gotten rejected too.
The person who will be referring you is vouching for you to an extent. If they don’t get good vibes from you, then of course they won’t risk their own reputation for a stranger.
I know someone from another company who got contacted by HR to stop referring people due to one bad applicant. So, there is a reason for your rejection.
Don’t be mean if you got rejected or received constructive criticism because that will only hurt your entry into the company. Don’t burn bridges. It’s not too hard to say or type, “Thank you for your time.”