By: Hillel Fuld (@hilzfuld)
In today’s day and age, the one thing we all share in common, no matter who you are or what you do, is a network. As a result, a fundamental pillar of doing business in 2017 is asking and receiving intros to members of other people’s networks.
I am sure I am not alone when I say that I send easily hundreds of introductions on a weekly basis. I find myself explaining to people who I meet, the best way to ask me for an intro so that I can minimize my effort and maximize effectiveness of said intro.
Unfortunately, despite this explanation, too often the person asking me for an intro to someone, does it wrong, and I end up spending way too much of my time on writing that email introduction. Don’t get me wrong, I’m always happy to make an introduction but if we can minimize my effort and achieve maximum results, then why not do so? AmIRight?
So, I thought I would break it down a bit, and explain how I personally prefer to get introduction requests, and I’m sure I share this sentiment with many people in my personal network.
Context is Everything
Before I talk about how I would prefer someone ask me for an introduction, the first thing that is required in this scenario, like many other scenarios, is context. Who are you and why do you want this introduction? What are you hoping to accomplish?
For example, I am a huge Snapchat fan. Yesterday morning, I sat with someone who is very close with the head of technology at the company. I of course wanted an introduction. I then went on to explain that the context is actually no agenda. I said to him if you’re OK making an introduction (it is very important to establish that the person making the introduction will not in any way be harmed or his relationship damaged as a result.), I have no agenda and no ask, I really just want to connect with him. It is important to explain the context of any intro before the fact.
Allow me to explain to you why this is super crucial. An introduction with the wrong context is possibly one of the most awkward things on planet earth. Too often I have received introductions to someone who expected me to promote some product that was completely irrelevant to me and my audience. Had that context been provided upfront, the introduction would never have come to fruition and I wouldn’t have found myself in that cringe-worthy situation.
What ends up happening, in the best case scenario is after we are introduced, I have to then explain to the person that I cannot help them. That is not pleasant. In the worst-case scenario, we sit on the phone trying to figure out why we’re talking in the first place. It goes something like this: I ask “How can I help you?” The person I’m speaking to asks, “You help me? How can I help YOU?” And it is a super duper awkward scenario. That precise scenario, it all its painful details, has happened to me numerous times. Context!
Once the appropriate context is provided, and the introduction is indeed relevant, and hopefully mutually beneficial, then comes the next crucial step.
The best way to explain this, so that I don’t lose you in the details, is again via specific scenario. Imagine you want me to introduce you to David. Instead of expecting me to write David a long email explaining who you are and why you want the intro, then CCing you on the email, how about you do the legwork for me and send me an email that I can forward asking me for an introduction to David along with the context?
This enables me to forward your email and ask David if I may introduce you two. Very very important step to ask before introing!!
Do not ever, under any circumstances, assume someone is OK with you making an intro to them without asking them first. Be respectful of people’s time and network, because often they have spent years building that network.
If you forward me that email asking for an introduction to David along with your ask and the proper context, I could then forward it to David asking him if he’s cool with an introduction. As soon as David approves, I can simply, with one added line of text, and almost no effort on my end make that introduction.
By now you must be rolling your eyes and thinking, this Hillel dude is quite OCD. OK, I’ll bite. If I made one introduction every week, I’d happily write a long email introduction and go through the entire process myself without asking you to send me that initial email. But when I’m making 100 of those every week, that means 100 emails that I have to write and waste time that I would otherwise be spending on being productive. Which leads me to my next point, email etiquette.
Avoid the Email Noise!
Josh makes an introduction between Ben and Jerry. Ben was the one that asked for the email intro. Now Ben & Jerry are connected. Ben should then take it from here, and BCC Josh so that he understands that the two are communicating but is now removed from any further correspondence. Again, be respectful of Josh’s time and inbox, and don’t force him to be on this long email thread that could go on for weeks.
I have been on email introduction threads that quite literally went on for tens of emails and upon receival of every single one of those emails, I simply deleted the email. Why do I need that?
You asked me for an intro, I made the intro, now feel free to take it from here and remove me from the thread.
Once again this might sound very anal to you, but when it happens 100 times a week, it could get very annoying and frankly ineffective and unnecessary.
Remember the Source
The next very obvious, or it should be obvious at least, step is never forgetting the source of this intro. What I mean by that is if whatever you were hoping to accomplish by asking for this intro does not manifest, don’t burn bridges and make the person who facilitated the connection look bad for even connecting the two of you in the first place.
Once again, all of this should be quite obvious, as in reality this is just basic human interaction, but unfortunately, as I’m sure many of you reading this know, common sense is quite a rare commodity nowadays.
The Followup, Never Forget the Followup
Finally, the follow up. Once you establish a connection and hopefully a business collaboration with the person to whom you were introduced, and you remove the original person who introduced you from the thread, never forget to follow up. Write an email to the person who introduced you CCing the person you were introduced to thanking that person for facilitating that connection.
Again, if I am tapping into my network for you and your business, I think we can both agree the least you can do is let me know that the connection has materialized into something concrete and thank me for that connection. Again, basic common sense.
To summarize? If you want an introduction from someone to an individual in their network, provide the context, send an email asking for an introduction with the context, then remove the introducer from the thread, and later on, once the introduction produces the desired result (or even if not!) loop the person back in and thank them.
Pretty simple, no? You’d think so…