Networking has everything to do with making introductions. But what are the rules of engagement?If you network, and of course as a woman in business you must, you are going to ask for, make, and be on the receiving end of countless introductions. It’s absolutely standard. And there are etiquette rules that dictate how to make ’em, how to respond to ’em, and what not to do, not ever. Here’s a primer to get you going:
1) ASKING FOR INTROS
If you think of your trusted friends as precious jewels, you’ll expect other people to do the same. But many, many people think that if you know someone, and they know you, then they’re entitled to be introduced to simply everyone you know. Be careful about asking for introductions, and be careful about offering them. It’s very impolite to throw around your friends’ contact information like Pokemon trading cards, or ask others to do so for you.
So when you ask for an introduction to a person you don’t already know, be clear about your reasons. If you want to do business with this person’s company, do your research. The last thing you want to convey is something like “Oh! You know an IT guy at Apple? I sell IT consulting services. I want to meet him!” In that case, you’re signalling that all you need to know is the fellow’s title, nothing more. That’s a disservice to him and to the friend who’s being asked to make the intro.
2) RESPONDING TO INTROS
When a friend introduces you (typically by email) to another person s/he knows, you should respond within a day or two. A blown-off introduction embarrasses your friend by making it seem as though she has no juice with you at all, in front of another person, no less. Respond, even if you can’t talk or meet in the near future. And if you’re just not interested, you can write “Thanks Angela for the introduction, and so nice to meet you Brad! I would love to know more about your company. Can I bother you to send me some information to look over? I’d love to do more, but we’re really pressed with budget deadlines. If it seems as though we’ll be in the market for your services, I’ll set up a call for early next month.”
3) STEALING INTROS
A terrible, terrible networking sin is to steal an intro, by using a friend’s name to introduce yourself to a hard-to-reach person. So if your neighbor jane mentions that she knows Amy Smith, the CEO of LargeCorp, a wonderful prospect for your services, that’s all well and good. If Jane wants to introduce you to Amy, she can do so. But if she doesn’t offer to introduce you, you cannot call Amy Smith on your own and say “Hi! I am friends with Jane Larsen, who is my neighbor.” You cannot use Jane’s name that way, as an entree to this lofty person, because Jane has not chosen to make the introduction herself. Amy will see right through your fake intro, and Jane will be peeved at you, as well she should.
Networking intro questions? Leave a Comment below – thanks!