How to Ask for a Referral From a Stranger on LinkedIn


First of all, can you ask for a referral from a stranger? LinkedIn is full of connections from people hoping to expand their network, especially with others in companies they hope to join.

Recently, a friend of a friend asked if he could list me as his referral for a job he’s applying for at my company.

I’m happy to help out friends, and friends of friends, in their job search. I’m also happy to help out people with even more distant connections. But if I┬ádon’t know anything about your work history or performance, and I’ve never met you, I can’t be listed as a referral.

To me, “referral” connotes more of a connection that we actually have, a reference that has no concrete basis.

I responded that he could say “A friend of Becky’s referred me to this job” and that would provide enough of a context and network connection to the hiring manager.

I have no problem connecting with people I don’t know, because you never know who they know, and in the process you might learn something that can help you with your career. You just have to proceed with common sense and caution when moving the relationship forward, and remember to look at things from their point of view, too.

How would you have responded to this request? What’s your interpretation of “referral”?