“Chris, I’d like to introduce you to Ellen. I think she may be able to help you with your job search. Good luck! I’ll let you two take it from here.”
If you are new—or a little rusty—to the world of networking, important introductions might be intimidating, or even awkward if you don’t know what to say.
Remember, introductions are just the first step of befriending a new person—and networking is ultimately about building relationships and reputations. If you are fortunate enough to be introduced to someone who can help you progress professionally, you’ll want to know how to make that exchange more successful and likely to happen again.
So, do you want to nail that next introduction? Here are 10 things to remember:
1. That the introducer is using their reputation for you
When someone introduces you, they are asking a friend or colleague to make time for you and help. It’s a personal favor, and not too many requests can be made of any one person. You become a personal reflection of the introducer—it’s not all about you.
2. To follow up—quickly
When an introduction is made, move promptly, not only as a sign of appreciation but to ensure your new contact remembers the introduction. In business, two weeks is an eternity and a thousand things have flown by since. A delay can also unintentionally communicate that the introduction isn’t that important to you or you have no urgency. Neither is helpful.
3. To aim for an in-person intro
Not every introduction will have time to meet you in person, but try. Nothing, not even a great email back-and-forth, replaces a face-to-face conversation.
4. That your schedule is secondary
Adapt your schedule to theirs—don’t expect the other way around. Be willing to meet before work and close to their office. Never ask them to come to you, because you are the one asking for the favor.
5. To prepare
Know you who are meeting in advance by researching your new contact before you get there. You’ll not only look prepared, but with a better idea of what to say and extra confidence, you’ll have a much more productive and meaningful discussion.
6. To know the “ask”
Don’t spend your coveted one hour hoping that the person you’ve just met will know what to do or how to help you… when you can’t even articulate it yourself. Figure out what you want, then narrow your request as much as you can. Say something like, “My goal is to connect with people in the financial services industry in New York” or “I’d appreciate your advice on finding an agent for my nonfiction book targeted at teenagers.” Take it as far as you can.
7. To work on a relationship, not a transaction
Don’t outsmart yourself and determine who is “worth your time.” Even the person who doesn’t have a job opening might have the next perfect introduction for you or decide to create a brand-new position based on your conversation. Networking and introductions are organic, not formulaic.
8. To show gratitude
Send a personal thank you right after your meeting to both the contact and your introducer—because you were the recipient of two favors. Other people have taken time from their busy day to help you. A simple thank-you note is all it takes to show your appreciation… and strengthen the connection.
9. To stay in touch
Send a LinkedIn request to your new contact. But don’t use the automated LinkedIn note of “I’d like to add you to my professional network.” Instead add a personal comment referencing your meeting. And look for other ways to stay connected after your first meeting—follow them on Twitter and stay on top of your email. When you are asking for help, you’ve got to stay on top of it, to make sure no opportunity passes you by.
10. That you can’t just be a taker
We all know those people in our network who only call when they’re looking for a new job. Then they hide away until the next time they need help. Do a favor for your contacts by asking, “What can I do?” and becoming the introducer, making introductions valuable to them.
Recently I spoke to an entrepreneurial class at Southern Methodist University. After the class, a student came up to introduce himself and thank me for coming. He also told me that he knew another respected author in my space and offered to introduce us. I received a LinkedIn request that night with a personal note thanking me again for visiting his class.
This is how it’s done.