You are meeting with a networking contact and the subject of introductions or referrals comes up. Your goal is to get introduced to new networking contacts to expand your reach. The larger your network, you increase your opportunity to meet someone who can help you find your next job or put you in contact with your next client.

When you ask someone for introductions to their network, the introduction dance begins. Let’s say you experience someone being less forthcoming with information about a contact. It might be for good reason – they may be protecting their contacts from being overloaded with requests.

Networking screening typically occurs when a few people are the “go to” people on networking lists. Networking takes time and overwhelms someone in high demand quickly. Consequently, some contacts limit how many people they are willing to meet and ask their go-between to screen for them.

Let’s say your networking contact suggests several people. How do you handle the conversation? How confident are you that they will follow through with the introductions?

Think about how successful you are with connecting with their contacts. I will bet you have mixed results – depending on what approach they take with the introduction process.

Five Ways Networkers Make Introductions

Think about different approaches to make introductions:

  1. They offer to send their referral a note and let the other person contact you if they want to. This is a no-win situation because the request may or may not be forwarded and it is dependent on someone who doesn’t even know you to contact you.
  2. You don’t get any referral contact information and the person offers to contact their referral for you. If they hear anything, they will let you know. There is a strong chance your networking contact will not do anything – not because they are mean-spirited, they probably forgot to do it. Don’t count on hearing anything unless you follow-up.
  3. You receive a list of names – with varying degrees of information: phone, email address or a suggestion to contact them through LinkedIn. It’s up to you to make the “cold” call introduction.
  4. The person suggests sending a LinkedIn invite through them so that they can attach a note of introduction. This approach requires you to take initiative and the other person can endorse the referral.
  5. They offer to make a phone call their contact to discuss why meeting with you is a good idea. This is a “warm” introduction. While you don’t have the benefit of knowing what was said, a personal recommendation goes a long way to getting a meeting with someone new.
  6. The person offers to do a “warm” introduction, which means they send you and the other person a letter of introduction via email – with each other’s email addresses shared. This approach takes the most time and usually is done when there is a strong desire to make networking connections.

How to Increase Your Introduction Success Rate

Your goal is to step the person’s involvement in the introduction process – and make it visible to you.  In the first two situations, the likelihood you will hear something back is rare. You have no involvement and are basically a bystander in the process.

In situations three and four, the responsibility is on you to make the move. You have information and the other person is minimally involved.

In the final two situations, your contact is directly involved making introductions on your behalf.  While the phone call is not visible to you, if your contact makes the call, it makes an impression. The last situation is ideal; you know what was said and have information to follow-up directly.

How do you get someone to be more active in helping you connect with people? I’ll cover that topic next time.