The season of networking and following up “in the new year” is upon us. As you flit from office parties to the holiday dinner table, you’ll be catching up with old connections and making several new ones. This presents a plethora of opportunities to build your network. Imagine going into 2014 with a long list of leads based just off of your end-of-year socializing!
One of the most effective ways to take advantage of these informal conversations over the dinner table is to offer to introduce someone to someone else. Making connections for people is not just helpful to them, but to yourself as well. Giving someone a strong introduction will (1) make you memorable; (2) give you an excuse to ping the person again and (3) generate a bit of goodwill on your side of the ledger.
Whether it’s meant to get someone a new job or a new client, here are a few things to remember when drafting that introduction.
1. Reverse the power dynamic
When the two people you are trying to connect aren’t on the same footing, it’s up to you to create some kernel of interest on both ends. That’s the only way to ensure that it will end up being a live connection (which is what you’re all hoping for.) Practically, this means pitching the introduction as a favor to the person higher on the food chain. For example, saying “I thought Alex would be a terrific asset to your sales team because ABC,” instead of saying “Alex wanted me to put him in touch about that position on your sales team.”
2. Skip the two-para format
Many, many intros start with two separate paragraphs, each addressed to one of the parties. For example, “Mary – June is that terrific cupcake baker I told you about. June – Mary just opened the village bakery down the road.” This is entirely appropriate, but often unnecessary and inefficient. Presumably, Mary asked to be introduced to June. There’s no need to repeat the introduction to her within the email. It’s much cleaner and more effective to speak to a single person in your email: “June – Mary has launched a beautiful new bakery down the road, and is looking to connect with local bakers like yourself.” If you need to send Mary more contextual information on June, do it via a separate email, where you could also throw in a few pointers on how she should follow up with June next week.
3. Don’t forget your Call-to-Action
As with any good sales pitch, your introductory email should be designed to spur some action. In this case, you’d like the two people to meet, grab coffee, or somehow connect with each other to validate your matchmaking skills, right? Then say so. At the end of the email, drop in a line like “I hope you two will make time to connect. I know you’ll enjoy the discussion.” A bonus benefit is that it’s also a great way for you to bow out of the ensuing conversation.
4. Pick your Highlights
Even if your introduction involves the Prince of Saudi Arabia, you’ll have to handpick which parts of his resume are most relevant to the discussion at hand. No point talking about the number of cars he owns if the introduction is being made for investment in a soup manufacturing company. You’re playing matchmaker. You’re the only one who knows both parties. So it’s your job to highlight which parts of each person’s background would be most relevant to the other person.
5. Throw in a few links
You may have to keep it brief, but that doesn’t mean your email should be devoid of context. Think about where you might be able to provide a LinkedIn profile link or a company name/website link to help the process along. Of course, your connections could easily Google around to figure this out, but providing the links within the email will make it easier for them to engage with your request.
Bonus Tip: You should consider connecting individually with both people before the introduction is made, to ensure that it’s welcome. Not only does this prepare them for the introductory email, but it gives you a quick way to ping your existing network and stay top of mind with them.
Now that you’ve written a great email introduction, throw a strong, to-the-point subject line on there (this ego-boosting subject line is a great example) and hit send. You could follow up a couple of weeks later to see if your matchmaking was successful. But as any Yenta will tell you, it’s now out of your hands!