How to ask for a referral to another group without sounding uninterested in their group?

Post-MBA Associate looking to lateral here.

Through a very senior level former employee of a bank, I was able to get in touch with a senior level current employee of the M&A group. The discussion with him went well and he said if/when they hire he'll let me know and keep me in mind.

I just found an opening in another group at the firm that I'm interested in. I'd like to ask him for a recommendation or introduction, but I also don't want him to be like "wait I thought you wanted to work in my group?" Then again if he's supportive it will have a lot of weight because of how I got in touch with him and his seniority.

What should I do? Try to find a different inroad into the group that's hiring? I did work on a deal during my MBA internship that they also apparently worked on, though I don't know who in their group worked on it or how to find that out. I suppose I could start cold emailing people I find on LinkedIn (unfortunately can't find any other connection to this group other than that one deal - no school or social connections to anyone).

Or should I say something to this guy along the lines of "your group is my first choice but I saw the other was hiring and I'm really interested in it"?

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Comments (2)

Best Response
Jan 23, 2018

How long ago was your last conversation with your contact in your preferred group? Has it been long enough such that you could check in again without being obnoxious?

If so, you can reiterate your interest in his group and see if he'll give you an appraisal of how likely/soon you might get an opportunity to interview with him. Then explain your reason for asking: you see there's an opportunity in group B, and you wanted his advice on if you should pursue it or if it's wise to hold out for his group, because he's your first choice.

He may tell you to wait and apply to his group - which is probably the news you want to hear. If he tells you he can't commit to anything with you, but he understands and you've gotta do what you've gotta do, you can then ask him if there's anyone in group B that he'd suggest you reach out to. If he's able to give you a contact, ask if it's ok to drop his name when you try to connect.

I would strongly suggest doing this over the phone or in person versus an email. You need to hear his responses and adjust accordingly. In an email you've got to lay it all out for him and it won't come off the same way.

There's always a chance he's a jerk and tells you to hold out for his group, only for you to never get an offer. I think most senior people will understand where you're coming from and at least be straight with you.

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Jan 23, 2018
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