NETWORKING SKILLS: What Does It Take To Inspire You To Make an Introduction?

Our BE CONNECTED To Effective Networking workshop is shaping up nicely. Check out the details here.

And in the meantime, consider this question: What does it take to get you to introduce two people to each other?

The reason I ask is that a central tenet of our approach to networking is that people will love you if you make a good quality introduction. You stand out in the minds of both people who are involved in the introduction — They think of you as someone who knows them and understands what they’re interested in. They acknowledge you as a person of action, not just of words. (I estimate that over 75% of introduction promises made in the heat of a networking conversation do not translate into an actual introduction.)

Perhaps most valuably, actually making an introduction tends to inspire at least one of the people involved in your introduction to make one on your behalf as well.

Having said that, there are valid reasons for hesitating before making an introduction:

First, you haven’t yet wrapped your brain around why A should talk to B. You know why B wants to talk to A, but B hasn’t communicated to you what’s in it for A, and you can’t figure it out well enough to put it into language. Try to get clear on that information from B before you consider making the introduction.

Second, you don’t want to refer someone whose work you can’t vouch for. This is a good instinct, but it fails to distinguish between a referral and an introduction. Just because you’re introducing two people to each other doesn’t mean you’re vouching for the results that Person B can deliver. On the other hand, you are saying something about the quality of the person that you are sensing.

Third, you worry about how B will actually go about interacting with A. You don’t want to set up a conversation that ends up being a pushy sales pitch. You want some insurance that the introduction you make will develop into a human, respectful, balanced conversation that is enjoyable and productive, and ideally beneficial to both parties. Make sure you steer person B about how to approach person A.

Here’s how I do it:

When I’m getting to know somebody, I’m asking every question I can think of to wrap my brain around the value proposition this person has to offer. Who do they help? What problems do they solve? How do they go about doing that? What outcomes do they produce? How do they know they’ve succeeded? I ask all these questions because I’m interested in learning about people, and I’m really interested in learning if they could be of value to anybody I know.

I recently had a fabulous experience of meeting a person who had just started a company that brings yoga to corporate spaces, and when she told me she specifically helped people responsible for the health and wellness inside of organizations, I immediately thought of a friend of mine who was exactly that.

This was basically all it took to get me to want to make the introduction. And when I recognized that the two people involved were similar personality types, I was very confident that the two would hit it off. But just in case, when I made the introduction via e-mail, I laid it out very clearly in the message:

Person A, I just met Person B at this event and learned that she brings yoga to corporate spaces, and that she specifically helps health and wellness officers achieve their mandate of increasing the well-being of staff.

Person B, I have known Person A for years. She is a health and wellness officer inside of her company, and is always looking for new resources to help her achieve her mandate.

Persons A and B, I am sharing your contact info here, and I’m inviting either one of you to reach out to the other to set up a conversation that I’m confident will be productive and enjoyable for both of you. 

I love doing stuff like this. It’s fun. I suppose it feels like match-making. I do it because I love to help, and yes, I do it because it inspires the people that I help to want to help me back. (And yes again, the corporate yoga person responded to my introduction by making an introduction for me, almost immediately.)

So how does it work for you? What does it take to inspire you to make an introduction? What holds you back? Share your thoughts below! And if you’d like to get past what holds you back and get to your next level of networking effectiveness, join us at BE CONNECTED on Sep 11!

 

12 Comments

  1. Pete Machalek on August 21, 2014 at 8:58 am

    Just a little addendum to my post: I put a link to this post on a few LinkedIn groups, which has resulted in an exchange with a professional who clearly seem very judicious about making introductions. I highly respect that, and am hoping to get some varying perspectives on what conditions need to be in place for different people to feel comfortable with proceeding to make a professional introduction.

    • Christopher Haydock on August 27, 2014 at 4:46 pm

      Pete,
      In your example you’re having a networking conversation with person B whose value proposition delivers employee health and wellness benefits and whose networking target is corporate health and wellness officers. Furthermore, your contact (and friend as it happens) has essentially the same value proposition and more importantly is known to always be on the lookout for new resources to help her deliver on employee health and wellness, in other words, A’s networking target is person B. Here, as is often the case, the networking targets are different from the people A and B’s value propositions talk about helping in their day-to-day business. What makes this example introduction such a good match is not the common value proposition, but the reciprocal networking targets where each is exactly the one for which the other is looking.
      This corporate health and wellness example shows the low hanging fruit of introductions. It’s not necessary to first ask A for permission to give A’s contact information to B because A is already known to be networking for people like B, which gives implicit permission to share A’s contact information with B. One email goes out to both A and B and it includes both A and B’s contact information.
      How do we make ourselves the low hanging fruit of introductions? Always clearly communicate our networking target.

      • Pete Machalek on August 27, 2014 at 10:06 pm

        Very insightful, Christopher! I couldn’t agree more heartily!

  2. Bruce Lundberg on August 21, 2014 at 9:00 am

    Pete,

    Thanks for the clarification and example. I’ll use it to increase improve my introductions.

    • Pete Machalek on August 21, 2014 at 1:10 pm

      Thanks, Bruce! I’d love to hear more about what has held you back in the past, and what you’re thinking might shift!

  3. Dean Hyers on August 21, 2014 at 9:25 am

    Pete, I really like your writing style. You capture complex topics very simply, and clearly, cutting through the multitude of human variables that convolute a topic and get right to the core. An easy read, and a very enjoyable.

  4. Kelly Rietow on August 21, 2014 at 9:30 am

    Great post Pete. This brought clarity to the hesitations to introduce I have had on occasion.

    • Pete Machalek on August 21, 2014 at 1:13 pm

      That’s great, Kelly! Thank you! I’d love to hear your thoughts about what it has historically taken for you to decide that yes, you’re going to go ahead and take the action of introducing two folks. And also, what will it take going forward?

  5. Wyn Davies on August 21, 2014 at 2:32 pm

    An excellent and much needed post, so thanks Pete for sharing your insight with us. You put relevance into the networking process and clearly demonstrate the compounding effect. I would like your thoughts on one additional dimension of introductions, namely self introductions. How do you feel regarding the “Hi…I’d like to meet you” e-mail or phone call?

  6. Mike Tornetta on August 25, 2014 at 12:59 pm

    Pete, your write up is spot on for me. If i “like” a person and they ask for an intro.. I have no hesitation. I will question like you suggest and before I make the actual intro, I will go so far as to contact the person and tell them about my convo and ask if they are ok with me making the intro in the first place.

    I will even caveat everything with “I have never worked with them before, but I think it’s worth a look” or something to that effect.

    • Pete Machalek on August 27, 2014 at 10:14 pm

      Terrific, Mike! Let us know how it goes!

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