Those Tricky, Tricky Intro Requests

We all get them, and we have all made them.  They are tricky.

In case you were wondering, the intro request conundrum preceded the advent of social networks by, I am sure, hundreds if not thousands of years.   Social customs developed in every age to handle these requests.  In the Victorian Era, for example, the Letters of Introductions were an elaborate affair with the choice of paper, scent and whether to seal them or not of major import, and the relative social status of the requester, the connector and the target dictating who could ask whom for what.  (See how Benjamin Franklin dealt with it in Paris.)

I think that in the age of LinkedIn and Facebook there is an urgent need for some new rules.  People are exposing their Connections wily nilly (though that may change) and connecting to lots of people they barely know.  As well, the ability to hide behind a computer screen is encouraging intro requests.  On the receiving end, showing off the size of your Connections list online exposes you to getting lots of requests, and having to figure out whether to grant them or not.  What if you don’t want to help the requester? What if you don’t really know the person regarding whom the intro is requested?

Yes, I am aware that some people may be reading this thinking that this discussion is a waste of time because they would never ask for an intro.  They are convinced that their abilities in the cold calling department are so hot that they can overcome the chill of any unsolicited call.  Or their marketing automation tools are emotionless and they will continue emailing you forever anyway.  This is completely missing the point!  Consider this:

Rule #1.  Go for Insight.  Use the fact that I know a person or an organization to ask me for insights.  You may learn something.  (May be you are calling on the wrong person?  How valuable would it be to avoid an infinite sales cycle with this account?)  Use the new ease of, and lack of formalism in, communications to connect and learn.

Rule #2.  Be Patient.  Often it is better not to ask but wait for the intro to be offered.  I know you are calling for an intro but don’t corner me.  Allow me to decline without having to say no.  I will appreciate it and next time you call, I will take your call as opposed to ignoring you for eternity.

Rule #3.  Don’t Exclude the Connector.  Asking for contact info so you can contact the target directly takes me out of the loop and excludes me (a bad thing unless I am seeking to hide my involvement).  I may need or want to remain somewhat involved to make sure that all goes well and everyone behaves.  Some people move me to bcc right away, others never do — somewhere in the middle will do.

Rule #4.  Choose Who you Ask Carefully.  Ask people you trust and let them introduce you to people they trust.  Even if an “extra hop” is introduced in the connection path (using Reachable lingo), you gain knowledge with every hop because the trust factor leads to information sharing.  Remember, your task is not to “get to this person,” it is to close a sale/deal with this company.  Very different…

Rule #5.  Reachable can help :).  Yes, it’s a plug but I mean it.  Reachable gives you information about the context of relationships — who knows who but also how they know each other and (using our algorithms) deriving how well they might know each other (our relationship scoring).  Reachable gives you many paths to a target — you be the judge of who is the best connector to use in this context, we can’t really figure that out (thankfully for you we don’t read you mind, or your emails like other companies I won’t name…)  Reachable protects the data of your teammates by only revealing metadata about their relationships not contact data and enhancing people’s expectation to privacy at work, not destroying it…

Relationships are tricky indeed but also very helpful.  Only you can truly manage them but Reachable can help.

Laurent