In business, it’s often who you know. You can establish yourself as an industry leader simply by connecting the right people with a well-written professional email introduction. Joe comes to you and asks if you know anyone who can solve his IT problems. You’re not in IT, but you do have a great resource; Susan. You introduce the two and win the favor of both.
It’s good business karma and it creates opportunities. Now both Susan and Joe feel as if they are indebted to you. They make a note to reciprocate. They now also hold you in higher regard. Joe’s grateful that you are so connected you were able to help him find a solution to his problem. Susan is grateful because you gave her a new, and qualified, sales lead. It’s a win/win/win.
We’re talking about referral marketing. Unfortunately, many organizations do not have a structured referral marketing program. However, as a sales professional or an entrepreneur, you can make inroads in your industry if you pay attention to this tactic and embrace it.
One area where many people fall short when connecting people and giving referrals is with their introductions. How you introduce an associate to another makes a significant difference not only in how they perceive you, but also in the strength and possibility of their new relationship.
The Problem with Most Introductions
It’s true that when you connect people, it makes you look good. You know excellent people in a variety of industries. You’re a mover and a shaker; an industry leader. However, the focus of introductions shouldn’t be to make yourself look good. The goal is to help people. Most introductions, unfortunately, actually give both parties more work to do. They don’t go far enough to effectively introduce. So let’s take a look at the steps to help the people you’re trying to connect by introducing them in a way that is both helpful and powerful – and you’ll look even better in the end.
Step One: Why Should They Connect?
When you’re introducing two people to each other, it’s helpful to explain why they’d benefit from knowing one another. For example,
Joe Smith is the President at ABC Company based in Tucson, AZ. ABC Company does….
Don’t just fill in their company tagline. Instead, brag about the individual. What have they accomplished and who are they? What can you offer up about them that cannot be found with a simple Google search? You can follow up the brag with a bit of their relevant work history.
Step Two: Why Are You Connecting Them? Who are They to One Another?
Your goal is to connect each person that you’re introducing in a manner that helps them both immediately see the value of the introduction. What problem is one of them facing that the other can solve? Why are you connecting them? For example,
“I Know Joe Smith because we skydive together and he saved my life…”
This answers the inevitable question that everyone eventually asks, “how do you know this person?” By addressing it up front, you save them from guessing and having to do a little legwork.
Keep in mind that it’s generally only useful to share relevant information. For example, their title and the company they work for, as well as a brief work history, can be relevant. Share information that you’d want to know. Also, include links so that they can learn more about each other. You might link to their LinkedIn profile page, their business website or other social media sites. Including the location of each person can help them connect, especially if they’re in the same area or would connect across different time zones.
You’re In a Unique Position
When you’re introducing two people you’re in a unique position. You have inside information and knowledge that can make two people’s lives better. You have information that can’t be found on Google and that neither person was aware of before you connected them. You know their backgrounds, their industry, and their values, goals, and challenges.
Rather than introducing two people to show that you know great people, and to boost your credibility, introduce them in order to offer them both value. Make the introduction as complete and as easy as possible including why you think they ought to know one another.
Make it Easy on Yourself Too
With some simple organization, you can create your own referral system. Keep your connections up to date and get out and connect or reconnect with people. Ask questions and learn what they need and who they know. When you’re at an event, network with a purpose–attend with a goal in mind and set out to accomplish that goal.
When opportunities present themselves, start connecting people. Referral marketing is a great way to build your reputation in your industry and across communities in which you participate. You can also make it easier on yourself by creating a simple professional email introduction template to structure the information you’ll share. Using the steps discussed, create a fill-in-the-blank email that you can use each time an introduction opportunity comes up. And don’t hesitate to ask for introductions from other people too.
Who you know is just as important as what you know, and in some cases, even more important. Expanding your network and connecting those in need will pay off for you down the road.