Making Connections: What Makes an Introduction Stick?

[really_simple_share]What do you think makes an introduction stick?  Is it whether the people being introduced are a good match, or is it something about the person who makes an introduction that matters most?


If you are like me, you rarely get through a week without being on the receiving end of at least one “email introduction”.

You know how it goes.  You get an email in your inbox from someone you know, which reads something like the following:

“Rich: Meet Bill.  Bill is the CEO of a startup that is launching a software app, and they need some good advice about their IP strategy.

Bill: Meet Rich Goldstein, Rich works with startups, is a ‘rock-star’ patent attorney, and an all around great guy. 

Feel free to talk among yourselves!”


When you get an email like this, do you notice that sometimes it occurs as an exciting opportunity, and other times more like a burden or like you are being asked for a favor?

Do you notice that you sometimes feel motivated to follow up immediately, but other times take no action at all unless the other person replies?

Do you notice that when some people are introduced to you, they sound like someone worth following up with, but other times they don’t sound very interesting at all?

Do you think it is the content of the email that has you feel this way, or is it the person who sent it to you that has some introductions sound way more interesting than others?

The truth is that by far the biggest factor in your interest is your relationship with the introducer.

When considering whether to take immediate action on the introduction, or whether to follow up at all, the biggest factor is whether you respect the introducer’s skills as a matchmaker.  How much opportunity you see in the introduction is a function of how much credibility the introducer has with you as a connector.

When you have respect for someone as a connector, and they introduce you to someone, you will give their introduction special attention for two reasons:

  1. You want to honor your relationship with the connector:  You know they are a valuable resource and you want them to think of you in the future.  If for no other reason than to honor the relationship with the connector, then, you will likely be the first one to reach out to the person you are introduced to.
  2. Because of your respect for the skills and resourcefulness of the connector – you will look more carefully to find the match!  When you don’t see an immediate match, you will wonder what this skilled connector sees that you don’t – so you’ll give it a closer look.  And if the other person has similar respect for the connector, they will give YOU a closer look!

Because of these factors, introductions by respected connectors are much more likely to result in two people doing business together, or just establishing a relationship, than if the introduction came from a “lukewarm” source.

Do you want to be one of those people whose introductions are treated seriously, and that lead to valuable connections?

The question then is, how do you ensure that other people see YOU this way – as a skilled connector or matchmaker, and as a valuable resource – so that they respect their relationship with you and always take a second look for a connection when you suggest that one exists?

The first tip to being respected as a connector is to be generous.   Adopt an attitude of abundance toward your connections.  Try the following:

  1. Introduce people when you there is no apparent personal gain for you.  Make all introductions with ‘no strings attached’.
  2. Adopt an “I can win, and so can you” attitude.  Imagine a person so unconcerned about the ‘scarcity’ of their connections that they even help their competitors make connections and get customers!  Would you admire, respect, and trust such a person?
  3. Drop any pretense.  A real connector doesn’t pretend to ‘know everyone’. They are transparent not only about who they know but about who they don’t know.  They don’t hold back about things they can do and connections they can make, and they equally don’t pretend they can make connections that they can’t.
  4. Take risks.  Realistically, every introduction carries a risk that it may reduce your credibility and may diminish opportunities for the future.  Consider however, that if you hold onto those ‘best contacts’ until ‘just the right moment’, by then they will likely have forgotten all about you!  Making an introduction, however, keeps your relationship with them alive.  In reality, then, the risk is greater that you will lose relationship with your contacts by being forgotten than by ‘using it up’.

One of the benefits of adopting an attitude of abundance is that when you don’t have your attention on ‘getting yours’, the benefits just seem to come back around to you.  In this context, be someone who is respected as a connector, and people will naturally want to connect others to you!

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