Hi Marcey, meet this person who you have nothing in common with and can’t help you.
How many times a week do you get an unwanted email introduction that results in an awkward exchange with the recipient?
When I first started my business, I was in a networking group and attended several other networking functions. I admit I didn’t know any better and followed the lead of some of the other business owners. That lead wasn’t always appropriate or thoughtful. I first learned the wrong way but quickly found the right one and have been doing it ever since. What was the kicker?
I received an email introduction to a woman in multi-level marketing of a supplement, which I already knew a representative of and had no interest in being part of their line. I have nothing against MLM, just no interest in it as a business model. I emailed her directly and told her I knew about her product and was not interested in selling it. I appreciated the introduction but didn’t want to waste her time. She sincerely appreciated my honesty and wished more people would say that. When I emailed the introducer and stated that while I appreciated her thinking of me, please check with me first before introducing me to someone because it may not be a good fit. She responded and said, “Yeah, I thought of that. She’s actually really pushy and definitely would have wanted you to sell for her.” How thoughtful did that introduction seem?
When you are starting a business, you can get lost in introductions. Wasting fifty hours in a month in introductions and coffee meetings that result in nothing are a waste of time. Being discriminatory and spending five hours of meetings that lead to business and a real connection is a much better way to spend your days.
Now, when I’m introducing someone, I perform the following steps:
1. Ask both parties if they would like to be introduced and provide a very brief snippet of each one and why it might be a good fit.
2. Provide a brief introduction via email and at the end, say, “I'll leave it to you both to connect” or something similar to let them know they don’t need to include me in the response.
When I receive an email introduction I:
1. Reply to the email and include the original sender thanking them for the opening, but put them on bcc so they do not get caught up in the reply thread. or send them a separate reply acknowledging them so they are done with the chain.
2. Schedule a phone meeting with the person I’m being introduced to. I require 15-30 minute meetings by phone first to make sure that it is worth taking time out of both of our days to meet face to face. I put my calendar link or appointments directly into the email, so there isn’t any back-and-forth like
What days are you free?
I’m free on Tuesday. How about 1 pm?
That time doesn’t work for me. How about 8:30 am?
The people who ask me first about whether or not I want an introduction typically are the ones who are thoughtful about introducing and are also respectful of my time. I’m much more likely to accept an intro from them then someone else. One business colleague that does this puts links to websites and why they think the person might be a real connection for me. There’s only been a couple that wasn't a good fit, and after he had learned this, he didn’t bother me with that type.
Yes, you can say to yourself…you never know who you might meet or who might know someone, but is it worth the 50 hours to find out or is it better to teach people the type of individuals you need to meet?
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