Recently, I connected a new contact to a good friend of mine via email. Shortly afterward, my friend (let’s call him John) responded to my email a bit taken back by what transpired. Apparently, the person (let’s call her Cheryl) for whom I introduced to my friend, had some unrealistic expectations about how my friend might handle their wanting to speak with them. My initial email to my friend:
Good morning, “John”-
I hope you had a wonderful weekend. I wanted to make an intro to “Cheryl.” Cheryl wants to put together mastermind groups to show others how to do what they have successfully accomplished. Because of the great success you have had with it, I wanted to make an introduction; Cheryl is interested in learning from you.
Cheryl attached John’s email after I made the introduction:
Thanks Tim, Please connect me with John.
I have attached my bio, and please direct John to my site:
Here’s the note “Cheryl” sent to my friend:
I would love to learn about your groups. Tim shared how you successfully pivoted during Covid. I am a certified facilitator, formally trained, and I ran a small company. I have included my calendar link; can we schedule?
John wrote this to me:
So, let me get this straight… Someone I don’t know from Adam wants me to take my time to read their bio, check out their website, and then visit their calendar link app to set up an appointment so I can show them how I’ve put together something that took me months of research and trial and error? You’ve probably noticed that nowhere in the email thread does Cheryl mention they’ve looked at my website, social media, or YouTube channel. They also don’t mention reading any of my books or attending any of my presentations. They simply want to know what I can do to help them. This happens to me frequently.
I am entirely flummoxed that someone could be both so blindingly unself-aware of their self-centeredness while being so blatantly confident that others are just standing by, waiting to assist them. I am always willing to be helpful particularly due to my friendship with you; it’s the total lack of preparation and assumption that I can postpone what I am working on to have a 30-45 minute call where I will unveil my “secrets of success.”
Maybe I’m completely wrong and will be pleasantly surprised by the interaction.
This exchange was new to me. I hadn’t considered that making an introduction for Cheryl to John would be such an interruption but I didn’t ask either. Nor did I consider that my good friend, John, would feel exploited due to my introduction.
I am a connector. (If you want a book that talks about this further Malcom Gladwell’s book The Tipping Point has an excellent section on connectors) When I meet people that could benefit from knowing each other, I make an introduction – I do it all the time. Sometimes I never hear from the people I have introduced. Other times I get a nice note from one or both of the parties thanking me for helping make a connection. Sometimes very cool things happen as a result of making the introduction. Unfortunately, my guess is that too often, nothing happens and two people waste the time of another person.
I’ll admit sometimes I don’t pause to think about the timing of an introduction. After this situation, I’ll handle introductions differently. Below are 7 tips when you are introduced to someone else’s network:
1. Be prepared by researching the person you will be talking to in the introduction. Read and comment on their blog, LinkedIn, or other social posts. Offer a viewpoint that they may not have considered.
2. Buy a copy of their book, if they have written one, and read it. Offer to write a review for them.
3. Take the first 15-20 minutes of your time with them to genuinely ask questions about their work and then figure out a way you can help advance their cause, a project they support, etc.
4. Offer to make a donation to a charity of their choosing as a thank you for their time (or send a small gift card).
5. Make an introduction to someone in your network that can help them.
6. Write them a handwritten thank you expressing your appreciation for their time and input.
7. Offer to take them to your favorite restaurant, if you live in the same town as them.
Presumption is foolish. I think the key here is to have self-awareness. If you are asking for a favor from a big wig, you have to recognize that you are not in their peer group. You approach them with delicacy, respect, and deference.
Taking a page from Aretha Franklin singing Respect
“R-E-S-P-E-C-T Find out what it means to me…”