So often what you learned growing up will help you in the professional world.
One of my mom’s rules was if I wanted to invite a friend over, I had to ask my mom in private, without the friend being part of the conversation.
Why? In case my mom needed to say no, it wouldn’t create an awkward moment.
The same logic applies to introducing people in your network to each other. Ask each one, privately and separately, if it’s okay to make the introduction.
This is what David Burkus refers to as “permission introductions” in a great Harvard Business Review article called The Wrong Way to Introduce People Over Email. The right way is also called a “double opt-in introduction.”
As you reach out individually, give context and background for the request. Share with each person why you think they’d benefit from knowing each other. Include your thoughts on how they might be able to help one another.
Connecting people across your network is another important part of being savvy in social media as you build your professional reputation.
Here are some of the reasons I’ve introduced people recently:
For career advice for members of my team, I’ve introduced them to relevant people in my network at the company (note: opinions expressed in this blog are my own).
For information about a marketing leadership development program I lead with colleagues in HR, I introduced an employee interested in the program to a current participant in the program.
For paying it forward to current students at the USC Annenberg School, I arranged a series of informational meetings with colleagues who shared their career paths and what they do in the current jobs.
Once you have the green light from each person, you can make an introduction via email inside your company or use the share profile feature in LinkedIn for people outside the company. Using LinkedIn includes contact info, so it’s easy for people to connect.
Include a compelling, complimentary and descriptive line or two about each person. Hyperlink to anything helpful or noteworthy about each person. Add why they’d benefit from meeting each other. One of my colleagues Anthony Robbins is especially good at this.
Make the immediate next step easy and clear. The more junior person – generally the one gaining the most from the introduction – should take the next step of finding a time on the other person’s calendar, without creating extra work for that person.
Be kind to your network by not suggesting too many introductions in a short period of time. Space them out by at least a few months. If there’s more than one introduction you want to make to the same person, prioritize the most important one first.
And some introductions should never be made. You don’t want to waste the time of people in your network or take advantage of their goodwill. Your credibility and reputation will suffer as a result.
- A job candidate without at least a 70% match with the job description to the hiring manager
- A salesperson you don’t know well to business decision makers in your network
- Anyone who isn’t clear why they’re requesting to be introduced to someone in your network.
Given the importance of reciprocity, be open to introductions that people in your network suggest to you. Make sure you’re clear on how you can help. And learn from others about what does and doesn’t work well in making introductions.
What are your best practices for making great introductions?