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When To Use Introductions vs. Referrals

Kristin Bachman
4 min read

In the 2020 Job Seeker Nation Study, Jobvite reported that 31% of professionals found their current positions through their network. Whether a colleague introduces you to an a-list candidate to join your team or you’re referred for an open position at a leading organization, building a cache of trusted and exemplary leaders and colleagues will enhance your network. 

According to a LinkedIn Study, 45% of employees referred by colleagues stay an average of 4 years or longer. As a result, 82% of employers reported that referrals yield the best ROIs for their companies. Helping you hire top talent, faster, referrals from outside of your network can power a diverse team of leaders. 

Understanding when to utilize an introduction vs. a referral is essential to growing your network and connecting with the right people to lead and develop your teams.   


What Are Introductions?

An introduction is a connection between two or more industry professionals. It takes place when a person introduces a colleague to a company or individual within their industry without an expectation to be hired as a result of the connection. 

There are two types of introductions: warm (trusted) and cold.

A warm or trusted introduction pertains to two colleagues who have a professional relationship and one colleague introduces another to an individual or team forming a connection. 

On the other hand, a cold introduction occurs when a person introduces someone they do not have a professional relationship with to an individual or team. Most often, companies will reach out to potential candidates whom they have no prior professional relationship with and will ask them about coming on board.

While there are two types of introductions, warm introductions lead to a higher response rate and greater connections. Warm introductions can expand your network without holding the same expectations that referrals carry. While referrals are often tied to a specific role, introductions help build relationships between individuals and companies alike, opening doors for further communication down the road.

When To Ask For an Introduction 

  • As the hiring team, seeking warm or trusted introductions outside of your immediate network when hiring for a new position can broaden your reach in terms of the diversity of candidates your hiring team will encounter.

    To achieve a manifold candidate pool, consistently engage in warm introductions through shared colleagues and at networking events. When making new connections through trusted introductions, always introduce yourself as well as your company, offering a business card - either virtual or tangible, and a connection on LinkedIn in order to continue the conversation.

  • As a candidate, asking a colleague to introduce you to an organization or a leadership team enables you to initiate conversation. Forming these touchpoints at various companies strengthens your network, creating space for future partnerships.

    Trusted introductions are a lucrative way to gain valuable insight into an industry, extend your network, and demonstrate your interest in their company whether or not they currently have open positions. 

Streamline Your Introductions

Having the right tools to connect with A-list talent shepherds in stronger introductions, faster. Whether you are sourcing candidates for your organization or portfolio company, knowing how and where to make new introductions is essential.

Trusted Introduction Platform Technology: Hunt Club Atlas

As venture firms are reimagining the value they bring to their portfolio companies, many are introducing Hunt Club Atlas into their strategy. Hunt Club Atlas is a Trusted Network Introduction Platform that centralizes a firm’s online people network, identifies relevant connections, and automates introduction requests for their portfolio companies.


What Are Referrals?

A referral is similar to an introduction in that it leads to a connection between two or more industry professionals or an individual and a company. However, a referral is indicative of a specific role that an individual is being recommended for. 

Referrals are an opportunistic way for companies to learn about top candidates and for professionals to connect with potential teams. Often with the expectation for compensation, people who refer a colleague may receive a percentage of the future employee’s salary or other form of stipend for referring a candidate to a company. 

While referrals can be highly lucrative, they do rely heavily on the candidate's success with the organization they’ve been referred to. If a candidate exceeds expectations, this can build greater trust between them and the organization, leading to further referrals from the connector. Most impactful when they are spontaneous and freely given, its advantageous to spark conversations during networking events and when out with colleagues to help organically promote referrals.

When To Ask For a Referral 

When it comes to finding the perfect talent, trusted referrals present companies with reliable active and passive candidates. Knowing when to seek out a referred candidate can be the difference between filling a position quickly and confidently versus searching for the right candidate over a prolonged period of time.  

  • As the hiring team, when sourcing for a new position, asking from within your organization as well as from your greater network can yield impressive referrals. Seeking candidates from outside of your network can garner a diverse group of a-list talent that your company would have otherwise not known about.

    Ask colleagues from a variety of backgrounds and industries to help expand your network reach.
    If your hiring team is unsure of who to reach out to for a referral, attending industry events can produce valuable networking which can lend itself to organic referrals through casual conversation.

  • As a candidate, it’s crucial to know when and from whom to ask for a referral. If a position is created or becomes open at a company you would like to join, asking a colleague who works there or is connected with their upper management can lead to thoughtful dialogue between you and the hiring team early on in the search process.

    You may also ask for referrals from friends, family, and trusted colleagues that you have a long, positive history with.

In line with the common phrase, putting a face to a name, meeting industry professionals through warm introductions or trusted referrals amplifies your company’s visibility and bolsters your network. This recognition and connection can lead to piqued interest in your organization whether it’s by virtue of future hires, partnerships, or collaborations. 


Connect Industry Leaders With Your Leading Startups 

Delivering operational value through strategic introductions, Hunt Club Atlas powers your portfolio companies’ talent search and business development.

Start introducing your founders to the leaders of tomorrow with our trusted network introduction platform.

Schedule an Atlas Demo

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