One of my favorite things to do is introduce someone to someone else. It’s so powerful to bring two people together, knowing that they are going to hit it off and naturally find a way to collaborate.
And besides the satisfaction of making a connection, it’s one of the best ways to strengthen your relationships.
But so few people proactively make introductions.
When you introduce two people to each other, you show intention, good will, and a sign that you are looking out for them.
And when those two people meet each other, they will first look for common ground. It’s human nature – when we meet someone new, we look for how we can relate to each other as quickly as possible.
What’s the most obvious common ground?
You knew them both well enough to introduce them to each other, so it’s very likely that you are going to be the common ground they talk about first.
“So how do you know Jay?”
Do you think one of them is going to respond about how much of a jerk you are? Absolutely not – they are going to assume you’re close to the other.
More than likely, they will talk about how much they like you. The nice things you’ve done for them, or the fun you’ve had together.
This is strengthening your relationship with both of them – a reminder to themselves about how much they value your friendship.
Despite being such a powerful tool, most people fail introductions in one of four ways.
Not making an introduction at all
The first way people fail is simply not making introductions in the first place. It is such a low effort, high value activity to introduce two people you know will appreciate you for connecting them.
We’re talking about a simple email or text message here – it only takes a couple of minutes. And yet most people won’t make introductions without being asked or prompted.
Any time I talk to someone, I’m keeping my mind open to anything they say that triggers a connection in my head to someone else. If I can connect them to someone they will really get along with or have an obvious way to work together, I’m going to do that.
Using the wrong medium
Most introductions belong in email. It’s the most common medium, it’s easy to fit into most peoples’ workflow, and it’s easy to stay organized.
Sometimes I’ll get introductions via text message – this can be great if there’s an urgent need to connect with someone, but it’s pretty personal. Sharing someone’s direct cell phone number is really putting yourself on the line that they will get along well, and some people will be sensitive to that.
For people like me who like to prioritize and keep their communication straight, text messages often get lost in the shuffle (when will they create a “mark unread” feature for texts?)
And please, don’t use Facebook Messenger. Please.
Making the ask difficult
If you’re asking for an introduction, make it easy. The best way to ask for an introduction is to write a forwardable email to the person you’re asking. If you send me an email asking for a connection to Suzy, and it’s an email I can just forward her to ask for her permission, I’m happy to do it.
This is called a double opt-in, and it’s the best way to make an intro. When you send a direct email introduction between two people, those two people will feel compelled (and sometimes obligated) to respond if they have a good relationship with you.
That can create some conflict if there is an existing tension between those two people you weren’t aware of. So, as a rule of thumb, opt-in both sides to an introduction before making it.
When you’re asking for an introduction yourself, writing an email that is built to be forwarded on for an opt-in will help your cause.
Sending the lazy intro
This is the most common miss that I see. The introduction is a perfect place to set that meeting up for success and make a great impression.
Too often I get the line, “I’m going to make this short and sweet…Jay, meet Ted. Ted, meet Jay.” When you make it short and sweet, you forfeit your chance to make a great impression. You leave those two people on their own to find common ground, figure out why you made the introduction, and get them started on the right foot.
In a world where both parties are expecting the intro, you might be OK. But, even when you’ve opted in both sides, it’s worth making a thoughtful introduction.
Give some context to why you are making the introduction at all. Is it the work each of them do? A shared interest? An event coming up they are both attending?
Share a little bit about each of them, and prop them up. People like to feel interesting, and people want to meet other interesting people. This is your chance to share what you find interesting about those two people – and they will appreciate you for it.
Making introductions is one of the highest-value actions you can take. By showing a little bit of thought and intention, you can strengthen your own relationships and be the spark for some really great friendships and collaborations.
Keep an eye open for opportunities and be proactive about making introductions. You’ll be surprised how easy it can be and how much you’ll stand out by doing it.