Ordering flowers for your sweetie for Valentine’s Day seems like a slam dunk, no-brainer and an easy way to get in good graces with your better half. Yet if those flowers have a generic card with little or no sentiment, you can see why the gift may not be as well received. The same can go with networking.
During the course of a one-on-one, if you’re listening closely, you may think of people who can help your fellow networker. Well intentioned, you give your fellow networker a phone number or e-mail address and say, “Call/write Bill and tell him you know me”. Unfortunately, this can be a dead end for a number of leads and the reason why is very similar to the Valentine’s Day flowers: it lacks your full participation.
If there’s someone in your address book who you think would be a good lead for somebody in your networking group, go one step further. Make the introduction yourself. While it may not be practical to do so in person, an e-mail introducing your fellow networker and your contact adds a seal of approval.
“Bill, I’d like to introduce you to somebody from my networking group. He’s in the ___ business. I thought you two might be able to help each other out. I’ve cc’ed him on this e-mail so he can reach out to you directly.”
Does this guarantee a successful referral? Not necessarily. But what it does is take a cold lead and warm it up a bit so that when you do reach out to the lead, they are not blindsided. And the further you are from a cold call, the more effective your networking efforts will be.