Handling introductions that you’re asked to make correctly (i.e. a contact asks you to introduce them to another of your contacts) is a fundamental part of looking after your network.
Get it right and you are likely to build your networking reputation in a positive way and strengthen your network. Get it wrong and you will WEAKEN your network.
In a previous article, we looked at how to look after your network: How To Look After Your Network (The 3 ‘R’s)
The first of those 3 R’s was Respect. We already expanded on one of the points in that section, how to follow-up properly (The Art Of The Follow-Up: The 2-Phrase Email) and I promised you in that article that we would revisit how to handle introductions in a separate article too.
Well, here we are.
There are two types of introductions we could concern ourselves with:
- Connecting 2 contacts from your network (e.g. when asked: “Could you introduce me to…”)
- Introducing yourself (or your services) to a new contact
in this article we will deal with #1 and we’ll deal with #2 in a follow-up article.
The Wrong Way To Introduce People
The wrong way to introduce people to each other within your network can be easily summed up with these two words:
If a friend asks you to introduce them to one of your most important business contacts and you find yourself saying “Why not?” then STOP.
– Stop yourself for a moment and at least actually answer the question you have just asked yourself.
- Why not? – Well maybe because without giving this introduction any thought whatsoever, you might jeopardize the relationship you have with this important business contact when they get annoyed by your friend asking them for a favor they are not comfortable providing.
- Why not? – Perhaps because knowing both parties well, with a little thought there is no way that they share the same values and they are almost certainly going to clash.
- Why not? – Maybe because thinking about it and the circumstances that you can see but that your friend can’t, connecting these two people could have detrimental business consequences for either or for you.
There could be any number of reasons why you should not make the introduction, if you think it through.
The upshot is this:
You should only be making introductions if it is beneficial for both parties.
It doesn’t even need to be equally beneficial to both parties, as long as it’s beneficial to both parties.
If the contrary is true for the party being introduced (in the above example your valued business contact) then you are damaging your network, because you are jeopardizing, and damaging that relationship.
The Right Way To Introduce People
The first thing to check as I highlighted above is that both people can benefit from this interaction.
… and make sure that is clear enough that you can explain it easily too!
In addition to checking that the interaction could be beneficial to both parties, before you do anything with this introduction request, get in touch with both parties individually and explain to them why the introduction is beneficial.
i.e. I think you should speak to <contact 1 details> because <benefits contact 1 offers> and I know <reason the benefits contact 1 offers would be of interest to contact 2> – would you like me to put you in touch with him/her?
What this is effectively doing is paving the way for that introduction to be a success. You are selling them on the idea of being introduced in advance.
In a busy world where people have little time, skim read their emails and messages and don’t want to think too much about new meetings and connections, this simple action on your part is going to be greatly appreciated by both of the parties you are introducing.
That’s not all though.
Remember, we are trying to make things as convenient as possible for all concerned for the networking to go smoothly and get the desired results…
As some time could have passed by and people are prone to forget, get confused or given too many options, take the wrong one or just give up (The confused mind always says ‘No’) – the next step is to re-iterate why the interaction is beneficial.
When you make the introduction, spell out clearly once again why you’re making the introduction (i.e. why it’s beneficial to them) – even though you’ve already covered this with them both separately, doing so will help give them context, remind them and once again build an appetite for the meeting. You could also make things even easier by suggesting the place or time or even how they should be getting in touch – particularly if you know either or both contacts preferences.
- Check that the introduction will be beneficial for both parties
- Get in touch with both parties individually to get their permission to make the introduction
- Make the introduction in the most convenient way possible by re-iterating why it’s beneficial to both parties and helping with any extra suggestions as to how, where or when it should take place
In the above example I gave, I was advised to give Paul a call on the phone because the person who introduced us knew that Paul would prefer a phone call to email (this would have been my default anyway for an initial introduction as I too prefer phone calls but for some people it’s the other way round).
Again, in short – make the interaction as convenient and beneficial as possible, and you will be thanked and appreciated for it.