Like handling your connections, handling how you introduce yourself can either build your networking reputation in a positive way and strengthen your network or it can quickly disintegrate your network until there’s nothing left and no-one wants to take your call.
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 the previous article, imaginatively titled: How To Handle Introductions (Part 1 of 2), we dealt with #1. In this article we deal with #2.
Introductions The Wrong Way: Making It About You
How many times have you been introduced to someone who couldn’t stop talking about themselves, what they do, how wonderful they are (or their business is)…
Annoying, isn’t it?
They may even shove a business card your way and invite you to keep in touch.
So, what is the likelihood you are going to call them?
They may even ask a favor of you – to review something they’ve done or will send you, to recommend them to one of your contacts, to buy something that they sell.
In other words, they make it all about them.
This is clearly no way to build a relationship but people do it all the time.
It doesn’t matter how nice you are in the process of telling people about your thing, or how polietly you ask for the favor that you want from them. In an initial introduction this is not the way to go.
This is no way to build rapport and it is certainly no way to build a relationship.
Introductions The Right Way: Making It About Them
So, you probably guessed it already – we should be helping others, we should be making it about them – or as my friend Kaarina put it in her recent article here, WIIFT (what’s in it for them)…
… particularly when we are talking about first time introductions.
but let’s explore how we do this in a little more detail because there are some subtleties to it too…
Make it clear what it is you’re offering.
Don’t just say ‘if there’s anything I can do to help you, please let me know’ – because asking someone to get back to you, though helpful, is not really making things as convenient for them as you could be – you are really putting the work and the effort on them – not only to get back to you, but also to come up with how exactly you are supposed to help them.
A better idea is to offer something specific. Make it as easy as you can for them to say ‘Yes’ to whatever it is you are offering. This way, you are far more likely to get a response. Just think about it – if you make it easy to respond, of course you are more likely to get a positive response.
This is very similar to the approach taken with the 2 Phrase email process I described in the article on follow-ups (The Art Of The Follow-Up: The 2-Phrase Email) the same mechanics & concepts work when it comes to introductions. Basically, make the invitation for further interaction compelling.
Of course what you offer needs to be something that is compelling, something that they want, otherwise you risk getting ignored (though you’re introduction or invitation is more likely to be well received than if you’re just talking about yourself).
Note: depending upon the size of your network, what you do, where you are in your life or your business and the same details for the person your approaching relative to yours, this offer might be something really small (because it’s beneficial for them to get to know you in the first place, and they know that) to fairly big (they don’t know you at all and have little or no reason (until you give them one) to want to).
Think about that.
This is not about grovelling or about cheapening the interaction with fake ‘incentives’ but you do need to answer the question why it is compelling for both parties to take the interaction further – starting with Them.
This may be as simple as having things in common or getting along well, but it could also require more work and maybe a little research to answer that question and get the result you want.
In case it’s not obvious what people want or what I mean in the above statement by ‘research’, you can easily get an impression through more networking – perhaps with mutual friends or contacts, through reading their material or material about them or their business (depending who it is, via blogs, newspapers, company websites, articles…). If they use social media, you could follow them and see what they’re up to or respond best to. If you can identify any ‘pain points’ among all of this content which you could help with, then there is your answer.
Once you know what someone is looking for then it’s just a question of if you can help them with that or not. Very often you can, if not directly, then by referring them to someone else in your network – something that both parties will be grateful for. It may even be as easy as showing them what you do if you already have the answer and this is a very quick, efficient and friendly way to build the relationship.