I have a mentor who has been sharing good advice on generating conversations with potential clients for several weeks. As stubborn as I am, accepting the advice has taken me longer than I’d like to admit. Does anyone else struggle like I do with this?
He’s been a member of the President’s Club at Aflac more than a dozen times and has a way about him that makes you want to listen and follow the advice. But, like I said, I’m stubborn, and it’s taken me a while to follow through.
In addition to his advice, I’ve learned from my mistakes and done plenty of research to learn how to get referrals… I mean, letters of introduction. (I’ll explain that one later.)
Before we get to The Art of the Introduction, let’s get some clarification here. The introductions I’m referring to are between two people you know and believe there is great potential for collaboration or an exchange of business. Not a networking introduction. The “rules” around those are much looser. With that…
Here are the five components of the Art of the Introduction
Stop Asking for Referrals
Ask for a letter of introduction. This sounds so much more professional and personal. Next time you want to connect with a warm lead, consider giving a letter of introduction, not a referral. This mindset shift dramatically affects how the person making the introduction will do it. A referral sounds impersonal and doesn’t require effort. You can send a referral, refer someone with a business card, share a phone number, or make a suggestion. That type of introduction isn’t garnering much excitement from the other party.
When you properly introduce the two parties, there’s intentionality, and people will notice. This then translates into someone more likely wanting to connect and collaborate. Introductions take time to craft, but the payoff for you (see bonus tip) and the other parties is worth it.
Thanks to Larry, my mentor, for shifting my perspective on referrals.
Do Your Research
The second component is to do your research. If you’re going to make an introduction, either a) have experience using the person’s services/products or b) have a good understanding of the quality of their services/products.
There should be an obvious synergy and mutual benefit from the introduction. I’ve been introduced (without permission) to several other coaches. While it’s OK to network with people in my industry, most coaches are far behind where I am, and our conversations waste my time. Make sure the introductions are guaranteed to be mutually beneficial. You will know if this is possible by your research.
Use the Double Opt-In Method
The third component is getting a “double opt-in” before the introduction. In email marketing, when you subscribe to a newsletter, you add your information and then get a confirmation email in your inbox, allowing the business to send you email marketing messages. When making an introduction between two people you know and have researched, use this approach. Ask both of them if they would be interested in the introduction.
I once wrote an introduction email and sent it to both parties without permission. One of the recipients wrote me back and said the introduction was not desired and made for an awkward situation for him as he now needed to address the fact that the introduction was not wanted without insulting the person I introduced. Oops. Since then, I’ve always used the double opt-in approach, which has served everyone well.
Make it Easy
The fourth component is to make it easy for the two parties to do their research. I will include LinkedIn contact links, website links, and a blurb about my experience with both people and why the introduction will be mutually beneficial. Share just enough to get them excited about the potential connection so they do their research, but not so much that it feels overwhelming to connect.
This also makes for a more productive conversation when they meet because they know essential information about one another. I’ve connected with enough people in business to know most people DON’T do their research. When you make it easy for them, you are modeling how you want an introduction made to you (see bonus tip) and lowering the connection barrier between the two parties.
Track Your Introductions
The final component is to keep track of your introductions over the months and years. Follow up with people you’ve connected with and see how the connection goes. How have they collaborated or mutually benefitted? Most of the referrals I make, I never hear back from. When I check in, almost all of them have shared that they are working together or plan to collaborate in some way or another.
The follow-up also allows you to apply my bonus tip.
Bonus: The Art of Asking for the Introduction.
Now that you’ve served both parties well and demonstrated what good introductions can look like, it will be easy for you to request they introduce you to someone in their network that you could potentially collaborate with or do business with.
In some cases, I’ve requested a specific number of introductions, suggested the ideal description of who I want an introduction to, and provided a template email they can use to send for making the introduction. Lowering the barrier to ease the burden of introducing is essential. If all they have to do is add in their name a few bits of information to accurately represent their relationship with you and the reason for the introduction, you are WAY more likely to see an email in your inbox.
Reply to this email if you want a copy of the email template I send to people when I ask them to send letters of introduction.
Running a business on the power of receiving and giving great introductions reduces stress and guarantees “warmer leads” and better initial connections. The upfront work of getting good at making introductions and asking for them is worth the effort. Eventually, the introductions will come without request, and you’ll see the rewards of all the connections you’ve helped others make. That’s what I call a win-win-win.
If you’d like to learn more about how I help my clients with their marketing and my new 90-day lead generation challenge, check out the links below.
How to connect:
1. Schedule a free consultation to learn how you can work one on one with me.
2. Learn about the 90-day lead generation challenge. Infuse your organic marketing with new life and get leads fast in this fun 90-day challenge.
3. Habit Hacker Session. Tired of bad habits and limiting beliefs hindering you from leveling up your leadership? Sign up for a Habit Hacker Session.