Speaking Point: When a friend asks for an introduction to your company, that's great if your friend is a rockstar. If that's not the case, it can get pretty awkward if you avoid dealing with the request. It can be equally uncomfortable if your company is not actively in a hiring mode. At some point, you will be backed into a corner and your friend will expect either an endorsement or an explanation. Here are a few suggestions.
Speaking Point: When your friend has the right profile and skill set, by all means do everything possible to facilitate the introduction. When companies interview great candidates - even on an exploratory basis - it makes you look good. You will score points! It also offers an excuse to get to know colleagues in other areas who you now have a reason to meet.
Speaking Point: Respond to the request immediately regardless as to what you offer to do. The longer you delay, the larger the issue of your inactivity becomes.
Speaking Point: The path of least resistance is to forward your friend's resume to the HR department. It looks like you have taken some action and if you really don't know the hiring manager, make that known to your friend. Also explain that the HR department serves as the clearing house for candidates.
Speaking Point: If you have doubts about the impression your friend will make, offer to identify the hiring manager but also insist that your name NOT be disclosed. Explain that some hiring managers are overwhelmed with these sorts of requests and that it will tarnish both your reputation and your friend's if it feels like a meeting is being forced.
Speaking Point: Never agree to set up a meeting or refer a resume if you don't follow through. A broken promise is bad karma. It's also not the right way to deal with a friend no matter how much of a pest he or she may be.
Speaking Point: Offer up an alternative. If you believe that your friend will embarrass you, don't risk your reputation. Explain that you would be happy to...but first your friend needs to polish her pitch or address some other job search related matter. In the meantime, demonstrate your commitment through another gesture like Inviting your friend to an industry event or conference.