Rejection and I are on intimate terms, and I treat it as my friend, not my foe. I believe that how we handle rejection tells others a lot about our character. So, I read with interest the section on "Referrals and Elegant Introductions" in Terri L. Sjodin's new book "Small Message, Big Impact: The Elevator Speech Effect."
She writes that some referral requests receive a "no" in reply. That can sting. But here’s her suggested response: “No worries. Maybe this isn't a good time. If you feel it could be appropriate in the future, I would greatly appreciate it." She advises: “Be gracious and leave like a lady or a gentleman." Agreed.
How to go about making the referral? I like to send an email and caption it "Favor?" and, in the body, repeat the theme: "May I ask for a favor?"
If the one making the request has created enough political capital, most people will say yes. If I think the referral is important, I ask in person.
Remember: Time is the most valuable thing people possess. When asking someone for some of his, make sure to have a good reason for doing so — and a good reason includes helping a younger lawyer or law student. But do not go to the well too often, and make sure always to repay the favor granted.