"I feel that many of the introductions I receive are made because the introducers want to make themselves look good, not because they actually want to help me. Their introductions actually create more work. It's frustrating!"

When I heard this comment from a busy friend of mine, it hit me like a ton of bricks.

When I was honest with myself, I realized that I might be one of those introducers.

That's when I learned how to make introductions that busy people appreciate.

The key to the perfect introduction

Besides not doing double opt-in introductions, not giving your contacts enough context on why an introduction is being made is the most common mistake that smart people make over and over.

The better we become at introductions, the better we become at seeing hidden connections between people who could hit it off. When connections seem obvious, we assume they're obvious to other people too, even when they aren't. This called the curse of knowledge, a phrase coined in 1989 in an academic paper.

When we make an introduction, we have unique knowledge that can't be found on Google and that neither person we're introducing has:

As I explain in Why Being the Most Connected Is a Vanity Metric, different industries have different norms and dialects. In many ways, they speak different languages. As an introducer, your job is to translate.

Here's the context you should give in every introduction you make:

Key 1: Explain why you think two people should connect (1 or 2 sentences). Is there a specific problem that one or both of them are facing that could be solved by this introduction? Or do you think they should know each other because they share a common passion, goal, or value?

Key 2: Explain who each person is to the other (2 to 4 sentences). In making email introductions, too many people include just a link to each person's LinkedIn profile, which forces the other to click and sift through lots of info. Instead, spend an extra 30 seconds detailing each person's most relevant background info and then give a link to allow the other to find out more. Here is the background info you should consider including:

A brag.
About them.
Why you love them.
Link to find more info.
City and state.

Here is a format I often use:

{{ Full Name }} ({{ Link to Refresh Profile }}) is the {{Title}} at {{ Company }} ({{ Company Website }}) based in {{City}}, {{State}}. {{ Company }} does {{ What They Do + Brag }}. In the past, {{ Give Their Work History }}. I know {{ First Name }} because of {{ Background }}.

Once you have a blurb on someone, you can reuse it over and over with software like Contactually.

Be a good host

Have you ever had guests over to your house for dinner? You probably bought the food, prepared it, set the table, turned on the outside lights, offered to take their coats, and started them off with a glass of wine. You proactively did extra work to make a great experience for them.

When making email introductions, you are the host! People deserve the same amount of hospitality you would give your dinner guests.

Making others go on a scavenger hunt to figure out why you have introduced them is like asking houseguests to help themselves to the food in the refrigerator. It's going to take them a lot longer to do that than it would take you to serve them, and it's not going to be appreciated.

If you spend that few extra minutes to write a concise email that clearly explains why you're making an introduction, busy people will love you.

Now, it's your turn!! What are your biggest questions on making introductions or building relationships? Let me know in the Comments section below--I love answering questions, and I promise to answer each one.

Published on: Oct 8, 2014