Here’s the scene: you want to meet someone—a very important someone who can do important things for your career—but you’re not sure how to get to them… to meet them, to contact them… Then, you come across an individual who can help. She knows that someone, and she can introduce you to that someone, and she is willing to make the introduction for you. SWEET!
Let’s be clear, though, she is not recommending you—you both just met for goodness sake. She is not going to coach you, mentor you or be your best friend. She is merely offering to help you make the first contact with someone who can benefit you.
Okay, so she gives you this important someone’s contact information, and while doing so, she tells you a little bit about the important someone: why she is making the introduction, why that someone is as important as she seems, ways that you can benefit that someone and thereby develop a mutually beneficial relationship…
Here are some tips for YOU as you go about the professional introduction process:
- Pay attention to details: before you meet the important someone, pay attention to the details you are being offered about that person
- How do they like to be contacted: phone, email, short get-to-the-point messages or long flowery flattering prose, etc.
- Why is the person making the introduction bothering: why do they think the very important someone is so important (this is key to earn brownie points with both people—mention this specifically), how will the important someone possibly benefit from the introduction, what can YOU expect from the introduction, etc.
- Always have the end and the important someone’s best interests in mind. In other words, know what YOU want and anticipate the needs of the important someone, and when introducing yourself, mention how you intend to meet their needs and go for the ask—what you are offering to do and why (by the way—don’t bother mentioning much about what you need or why—frankly, no one cares much beyond mere curiosity)
- Highlight your skills and what specifically you are offering: if it’s obvious that you’re just in it for what you can gain, expect to receive a polite brush-off
- Do not expect the person who made the introduction to care one way or another if you got what you needed out of the introduction—they have two concerns: a) did they make a mistake in introducing you to this important someone and b) will any of their needs be met because they made the introduction. YOU don’t matter.
- If the introduction goes well, you contacted the important someone properly: you were polite, kept your message short and simple, highlighting the benefits of your offer along with why you are the right person to provide whatever it is… were specific in what you wanted and how this will benefit the important someone, GREAT WORK! Even if you don’t get exactly what you want, you were successful in your introduction, and the important someone will very likely remember that
- If you screw up the introduction: get verbose, overly familiar, lack clarity in what you want and how it will benefit the important someone, and at worse come across as insulting and uninformed about the important someone… I have some good news for you: you can only improve form here! It’s not likely you’ll do worse the next time.
- The worst kind of introduction is not bothering. Go ahead and make the mistakes if you must, and if things don’t seem to go your way, seek out advice. You may have blown your chances with both the very important someone and the person who bothered to introduce you, but that doesn’t mean you’ve blown your chances with the world. Professionals are very often willing to give advice, coach and mentor—you can even hire a professional coach to help you fine-tune your skills. It does matter.