You have probably heard it before, but I’ll say it again, it’s all about who you know. Anytime you have an opportunity to connect with a referral, be sure to make the most of it. Referrals can be a powerful tool when seeking to gain access to internship opportunities. Always check your network to see who can refer you with an inside player. Once connected with an inside player, it’s up to you to make the most of it. The following are some tips to consider when linking up with a referral.
Do Your Homework!!!
From the perspective of a referral, there is nothing more frustrating than talking to a student who hasn’t done their homework. By homework, I mean preparing for the call. You should never pick-up the phone without having a good sense of who you are calling and what you are looking to get from the conversation. Remember, when you are reaching out to someone to ask for help, it’s up to you to do the work. The contact doesn’t owe you anything, so don’t go into the call expecting them to be ready with a set of solutions or list of contacts they are going to blindly link you to. It’s up to you to earn it. Your job is to ask questions and explain what it is you are looking for from the conversation. If you want their help, you are going to have to make the case that you are worth helping out. Nobody wants to refer a student who will give them a bad name.
Know Your Takeaways
Any good salesperson always knows what they want out of a sales call. In other words, they have a list of what they want to get from the prospect. For you, it’s about knowing the takeaways you want from the conversation. It’s important to have a sense of what you hope to get from the contact, so as to keep your conversation focused.
Offer To Help
Always be willing to offer yourself up for any help they may need. Although you may not feel you have a lot to offer, you never really know. It’s important to demonstrate your willingness to give back. Chances are, they aren’t going to take you up on the offer, but it shows good will on your behalf.
After any call or meeting, always follow-up the next day with an e-mail to thank the contact for their time and help. Be sure to provide them with any information they requested (resume, bio…) and remind them of any key action points from the conversation. Don’t be shy about following up a week later if you haven’t heard anything back. I can tell you from my own experience, I get a lot of e-mails and sometimes I either miss e-mails or just forget to respond.
Referrals are a powerful tool that can give you an edge against other candidates. Be sure to use them wisely!
Michael “Dr. Woody” Woodward, PhD is a coach and author of The YOU Plan: A 5-step Guide to Taking Charge of Your Career in the New Economy. Dr. Woody is president of the consulting firm HCI, sits on the Academic Advisory Board of the Florida International University Center for Leadership, and holds a PhD in organizational psychology.