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How To Ask For A Referral Without Wasting Someone’s Time

How To Ask For A Referral Without Wasting Someone’s Time

Referral introductions are at the core of building relationships. But there’s a few major problems with asking for such an introduction –

Many people feel like they’ve been put in an awkward position.
Most people don’t want to allocate their already precious time on writing an introduction email.
Some people don’t want to risk the value of their relationship with a contact.

That’s why I handle my referral requests a little differently.

Problem: People feel awkward.

Solution: Understand the strength of the relationship.

Just because two people are connected on LinkedIn, doesn’t mean there’s a substantial relationship there.


“You should never have to ask, “How well do you know …”

Instead, take the time to understand the relationship. Make the person feel comfortable with making an introduction.


If you’re not confident in how well two people know one another, you’re likely already wasting their time.

We recommend spending some time gauging their relationship before requesting a referral –

  • Did they go to school together?
  • Did they ever work together?
  • Do they interact on Twitter?

For example, I recently wanted to get in touch with a woman named Whitney. I saw on LinkedIn that she was connected to my co-worker, Andy, and that they went to school together. That seemed strong enough for me to ask if he was comfortable making an introduction.

Problem: People don’t have time.

Solution: Write the introduction yourself.

As mentioned, most people don’t want to waste any of their already precious time. So when I asked Andy for the referral, I was sure to write the bare bones of the introduction myself. That way, Andy could customize it without having to start from scratch. The message I sent him looked a bit like this –

Mind introducing me to Whitney?

I super appreciate you making this introduction!

Here’s a template message you’re welcome to use –

Hi Whitney,

[Note or memory about your alma mater].

In any event, I wanted to introduce you to Anum. She leads our content strategy for one of HubSpot’s free products, and has been chatting with content experts like yourself to get inspired and share strategies. Any chance you’d be available to chat with her? See her message below.

You don’t have to use those exact words, but anything along these lines would be great. Thank you.

Andy ended up sending a very similar note, adding some color about their old crew of friends.

Need help crafting your own referral email?

Try one of these three, free referral email introduction templates. Reppify has tested and seen success with each.

Problem: People don’t want to risk the relationship.

Solution: Make it easy for the mutual connection to say no.

While the email template solves the time problem, it doesn’t solve for why people may not want to make an introduction or feel like their risking the relationship.

When I ask for an introduction, I ensure I give the person an easy way out. Typically I’ll say something along the lines of –

  • Feel free to say no – I won’t be offended in any way.
  • If you’re not comfortable, just say so and I’ll continue on my merry way.
  • Appreciate you considering this, but I understand if it’s not possible.

Sure, it sucks to have my request denied. But a denied request is better than a poor introduction.

At least now our mutual connection knows we’re looking to connect. Let’s say Andy said no. Maybe he ends up seeing Whitney one night – if he wanted, he could mention me then.

Or, perhaps he also knows someone else I’m looking to get in touch with. Maintaining a positive relationship makes it easier for me to make that request from him again with someone he may be more comfortable with.

Originally published 1/19/2015
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