I introduce people to each other every day. Most people handle these introductions with grace but sometimes I notice areas for improvement. Here are some tips when you are introduced to a new contact. This is mostly framed around startups being introduced to mentors, investors, and potential first customers, but applies for most meetings.
- Face-to-face meetings are far better than phone calls for first meetings. Assuming you are both in the same metropolitan area, do your best to meet in person. It’s super hard to build rapport over the phone or even video chat.
- Assume the other person has more to offer you than you have for them. I always try to assume that a new connection can help me more than I can help them. Occasionally I’m proven wrong with folks trying to sell me hard or push for a job, but I think it’s better to assume the opposite and wait for the evidence otherwise. This pays off by putting you in the right mental state of humility and an open mind.
- Be yourself. When meeting someone for the first time, it’s especially important to be authentic. Don’t exaggerate your success, traction, or awesomeness. Just be real, open, and direct. This is refreshing and helps accelerate a connection from “contact” to “relationship.”
- Connect the dots yourself! In the Entrepreneur’s Organization (EO), there is a culture of only speaking from experience and not giving your peers advice. Assume that new mentors and connections will do the same. Be ready to connect the dots and learn from their experience. Occasionally, you may want to ask for direct advice on your specific issue, but 9 times out of 10, the person on the other side of the table can’t possibly know all of the details of your situation. You can receive more value simply asking for their experiences in the area and extract your own actionable data from that experience share.
- Go out of your way to meet on their terms. Be flexible. If they prefer to do coffee instead of lunch or beer instead of breakfast, do your best to meet on their terms.
- Follow up, follow up, follow up. First, follow up with the new connection. Don’t let action items get away from you. Be sure to thank them for their time. Also, follow up with the connector. Thank them for the introduction, but also tell them something meaningful that came from the contact. Perhaps there is another connection that can be made for you based on what you learned from this connection.
Introductions make everything go faster. I encourage entrepreneurs, investors, and job hunters to simply meet more people. It’s very simple advice. Each time you meet someone, ask them for an introduction to another 1 or 2 people you should meet. If you do this right, you can accelerate everything in your world in a very short period of time.