I love giving introductions. In my effort to add value for the person I meet with in 2013, I’ve found that the highest value I can provide is at least one relevant introduction. Maybe it’s Atlanta business community’s awesome culture of giving and helping, but for whatever reason, 9 times out of 10 both parties are very happy I made the intro and put great energy towards helping the other person.
Some of the coolest introduction types:
- Cross network intros. This is when I introduce people who, from my view, would have almost 0% chance of otherwise meeting. They are running in different circles, different networks, different geographies and in different paradigms. These are the best. Universes collide and random unpredictable things can happen the most often from these intros.
- Multiple levels up. Meeting with tons of startup entrepreneurs means I see a lot of folks who are struggling to find their way into a large organization. Typically, they are starting at the ground level and inching their way up the org chart. Occasionally, I will meet with a startup trying to penetrate a large organization where I happen to have a C-suite contact or other high level executive in my network. Selfishly, these are the most gratifying to watch happen. When I know that both sides are looking for what the other has to offer, these intros are so cool!
- Pool of resources. Examples of these intros are when someone needs a certain type of person and I can make an intro to a leader in that network. The good example are the companies or individuals seeking MBA students and I can introduce them to a professor or Dean of a local MBA program.
- Missing puzzle piece. There are some needs that startups have that are hard for the founders to define. Sometimes I encounter people who don’t know how to describe exactly their need; or they are so close to the problem that they can’t take a step back and look at the larger picture. Then there are others who need a specific skill set that they aren’t aware even exists. There are consultants and organizations out there that do things you never would imagine.
- Knowledge help. The most basic, yet still rewarding. Person A needs to understand how to X, where to go for Y, or if they should Z. Person B wrote the book (sometimes literally) on X, Y, and Z and can give ultimate clarity in a short 30 minute conversation… and B is often more than happy to do so.
The key to successfully giving introductions is to be genuinely interested in helping both parties. Some introductions require an up-front “Ok to introduce” reach out and other people are wide open to your intros. You have to know your network well enough to navigate it without overstepping or offending.
Once you make a connection of value for someone, I have found the best next step is to disappear. It’s not my goal to benefit or profit from introductions I make. Unless it is a rare case where I have a lot of other balls in the air related to a specific connection, then I intentionally and quickly disappear.
My request is that you take this to heart. Be more intentional about helping people find each other. We live in an interdependent society now and relationships are gold. Go make some.