At the core of business, all business, are connections and relationships. That is why making business introductions is so common and so important. Whether it is startups to investors, one company to another, companies to talent, or marketers to journalists, at the end of the day, people do business with other people.
Facilitating business connections is much like a candle giving its fire. You have a network, that is your fire. When you give your fire to someone else, it just creates more light and you lose nothing. This is not a zero sum game, but rather, the two people you are connecting gain a new relationship, and everyone wins. In theory.
Opt-in to intros.
One of the most awkward things you can do is make an intro without asking both sides first. Don’t assume that both sides want this intro before asking them. Just the other day, I got an email introduction from someone introducing me to another individual looking for a job. “He is looking for his next challenge, I thought you could help.”
Now here is the thing with that intro. The person who sent that email meant well but had he asked me before sending that email, I would have said “Send me the guy’s resume and I will try to help”. Instead he introduced us, at which point I asked for the resume, which was then sent to me, and I quickly realized I actually cannot help this individual.
Now things get awkward. “Sorry, can’t really help you.” are not words I enjoy writing to anyone. This was a scenario that could have been avoided had the person sent a message or an email asking if I was ok to take this intro in the first place.
Let people opt-in to an intro, because forcing them to opt-out is awkward and unnecessary.
Context is absolutely mandatory.
One of the most awkward things that ever happened to me took place a few years ago. A friend sent an email intro to a tech executive at a massive company. “You guys definitely need to connect.” And so we did. The thing is, I assumed that exec knew why we needed to connect and the exec assumed I knew. Neither of us knew.
We jumped on a call that went something like this:
“How can I help?”
“You? How can I help?”
“Wait, what are we discussing?”
“Ok, have a great day”.
Horribly awkward and easy to avoid. If you are connecting two people, speak to both in advance, get their permission, and fill them in on the purpose of the intro. The context.
“I want to introduce you to Michael because I think you can really help him with his marketing.” or “I think Diana might be a perfect investor for your startup, may I intro you?”
Give both sides the context of the intro before making it.
Clear communication is a must.
Once you asked both sides permission to make the intro and you provided both sides with context, now it’s time to send the actual email. I say email because, in my opinion, Whatsapp or Facebook Messenger is not great for business communication for a whole bunch of reasons, but that is a topic for another time.
Send the email with a clear and concise message so that when the two sides look back at that email prior to their meeting or phone call, they get a clear picture of why they are connecting.
“I spoke to both of you individually and as I told you, I think you two should connect and explore possible collaboration on the marketing front. I think there may be a lot of synergy.”
“As I told each of you, you are both the best at what you do and there is no reason you should not join forces and collaborate on this project.”
Additionally, unless it is clear who should be replying first to that intro (if one side is benefiting from the intro more than the other), end the email with a sort of call to action. “Dave, take it from here.” “Michelle, the stage is yours.”
While facilitating connections is the foundation for pretty much all business, if done wrong, it can cause a whole lot more damage than good.