The best way to message someone on LinkedIn for a referral is to be polite, direct, and provide context. Explain who you are, how you are connected, and why you are reaching out. Ask if they would be willing to provide an introduction or referral for a specific position or opportunity you are interested in. Share a bit about your background and qualifications and express enthusiasm for the role and company. Follow up with a thank you, and offer to keep them updated on the application process.
Do Your Research
Before reaching out, learn more about the person, their background, and the company or industry they work in. This will help you craft a personalized message. Look at their LinkedIn profile and any other available information online. See what connections, groups, or interests you may have in common.
Make the Connection Clear
Explain how you are connected or your relationship. Were you referred to them by a mutual contact? Did you meet them at an industry event or used to work together? Providing context on the connection makes the outreach message more natural.
Be Direct but Polite
Get right to the point about why you are messaging but maintain a courteous tone. Say something like “I hope you don’t mind me reaching out” or “Sorry to bother you.” Being clear about the purpose while also expressing awareness they are doing you a favor prevents coming across as entitled or aggressive.
Specify the Opportunity
Share details on the specific job, internship, or other opportunity you are interested in. Provide the title, company, link to the posting, location, etc. Giving clear details shows you have done your homework and are serious about pursuing the role. Ask if they can refer or introduce you to the hiring manager or HR contact.
Highlight Your Qualifications
Briefly summarize your background, experience, education, skills, or other qualifications that make you a strong candidate. Focus on 1-2 of the most relevant points rather than an exhaustive list. This gives the person confidence in recommending you.
Convey genuine interest and enthusiasm for the opportunity. Say why you are interested in the company, role, industry, etc. Let them know you have spent time researching and are excited by the prospect of working there. Enthusiasm can be contagious and builds advocacy for your candidacy.
Offer to Follow Up
Provide your contact information and offer to follow up if they need any additional information. Also express eagerness to keep them updated on the application process if they provide the referral. This shows you are organized, polite, and appreciate their time.
No matter the outcome, always follow up with a thank you note. Thank them for considering the request and for taking time to respond. If they agree to provide a referral, thank them for the recommendation and support. A little gratitude goes a long way in building goodwill.
Sample Message Template
Below is a sample template you can customize when messaging someone on LinkedIn for a referral:
I hope this message finds you well! We were connected through [connection/relationship details], and I wanted to reach out about an opportunity at [company name] that I am very interested in pursuing.
I saw you are connected to [company/employees] and was hoping you might be willing to provide a referral for the [job title] role. Here is a link to the job description: [link].
As a [summary of experience/background], I believe I would be a great fit for this position. I am particularly interested in [reasons you are interested in role/company].
Please let me know if you would be open to connecting me with the recruiter or hiring manager for this opening. I would be happy to send along my resume and would greatly appreciate any support or insights you can provide!
Thank you so much for your time and consideration. I look forward to staying in touch.
Tips for an Effective Referral Request
Here are some additional tips for messaging someone for a referral:
- Keep it concise – 3-4 paragraphs at most.
- Proofread for typos and grammar errors.
- Use a professional tone but also let your personality come through.
- Personalize each request based on your connection to the person.
- Follow up if you don’t hear back within a week.
- Offer to take the contact out for coffee or chat to learn more about the role/company.
- Only reach out to contacts who are likely to know and recommend you.
- Thank them again after they provide the referral.
- Keep them updated on the hiring process.
- Pay it forward by being open to providing referrals to others in your network.
Following Up After Sending the Message
Don’t take it personally if you don’t receive a response to your referral request message. The person may have simply missed it among other notifications or doesn’t check LinkedIn regularly. Follow up after about 1 week if you still haven’t heard back.
Send a polite note checking in and reiterate your interest in the opportunity. If they already provided the referral, thank them again. If you still don’t receive a response after following up, it’s best not to continue messaging.
Alternative Ways to Get a Referral
If your messages aren’t successful, here are some other options for getting a referral:
- Networking events – Attend industry meetups and conferences where you may interact directly with contacts.
- Informational interviews – Request a short meeting to learn more about their career journey and company.
- Warm introductions – Ask a mutual connection to make personal introductions.
- Cold outreach – Politely reach out directly to recruiters or hiring managers at the company.
- Job fairs – Approach recruiters in person and inquire about open positions.
- Company’s career page – Look for options to submit an application or request an employee referral directly.
Don’ts of Requesting a LinkedIn Referral
There are also some things you should avoid when messaging for a referral:
- Being too pushy or demanding
- Not explaining how you are connected to them
- Asking right away without any rapport building
- Being vague about the opportunity you are seeking
- Making it purely about what they can do for you
- Submitting a generic message copied and pasted to multiple people
- Contacting someone you have no connection to
- Not following up or updating after they provide the referral
- Spamming contacts who didn’t respond previously
Maintaining the Relationship
Focus on building an authentic relationship, not just obtaining a referral. Nurture connections through periodic check-ins, congratulatory messages, and sharing useful articles or information.
Avoid repeatedly asking the same people for referrals unless you have cultivated an ongoing professional mentorship. Remember, referrals are a favor, not an obligation. Express gratitude and pay it forward by being open to assisting others in your own network.
Take the Time to Make Meaningful Connections
Messaging someone you don’t know for a referral is generally not very effective. Put in the effort to build trust and rapport with your connections. With good relationships, referrals happen more naturally.
While there are no guarantees, thoughtful relationship building and strategic outreach may open doors and provide opportunities you may have otherwise missed. With the right approach, messaging contacts on LinkedIn can accelerate your job search and career growth.