Double Opt-In Introductions
“What tribes are, is a very simple concept that goes back 50 million years. It’s about leading and connecting people and ideas. And it’s something that people have wanted forever.” —Seth Godin
One way to help people in your network is by facilitating introductions. According to the book, Connected, by Nicholas A. Christakis and James H. Fowler, any given connection in your network has almost a 50% chance of not knowing someone else in your group. The fact that half of your connections don’t know each other gives you a great opportunity to introduce people within your network. Done well, this is an excellent way to add value to people’s lives, but if done poorly, it can ruin relationships. Why is it then, that introductions are all too often sloppy or mismanaged?
A few years ago, I received a phone call at work from Nicole. I answered the phone, and Nicole said, “Hey, Jordan. I would like to introduce you to Brian. He’s in the room with me now. You two need to meet. What’s a good time for you two to meet?”
Not only did Nicole ambush me with this request, but I’m now responsible for her introduction mistake. My reaction:
Nicole’s introduction failed for three reasons.
1. She didn’t seek an opt-in from both parties. Introductions are successful when we provide each party with an opportunity to opt in. While you might think there is value to the introduction, you don’t know if that feeling is mutual. Before introducing me to Brian, Nicole should have spoken to me in private to see if I was interested in meeting Brian.
If you proceed without an opt-in, it’s now on that person to either waste their time with the meeting or deal with the awkward position of having to decline the invitation. Either way, you lose because now your colleague feels burdened for having to talk to someone they didn’t necessarily want to meet.
2. Nicole failed to consider the workload of both parties. The person receiving the introduction is usually too busy for another meeting, so you must make a clear case on why your introduction will help this person. Nicole should have thought about schedules before forcing the introduction. I didn’t have the bandwidth for another meeting. Brian could have been in the same spot.
3. She didn’t explain why the introduction could benefit both parties. While Nicole thinks introducing Brian to me could be beneficial for both of us, she failed to justify why we should meet. Maybe Nicole assumed it could add value to both of our careers, but neither Brian nor I could see the value in connecting.
The Double Opt-In Introduction Process
If you think Gary could benefit from an introduction to Dianna, you should first ask if Gary would be interested in meeting Dianna. If Gary agrees, great. If not, cancel the introduction.
It’s up to you if you want to disclose who Dianna is. I usually don’t because if Dianna doesn’t want to meet with Gary, I want to protect Dianna’s reputation. I’ll usually refer to Dianna as a person who has relevant experience in a domain that could help Gary.
Now, you can reach out to Dianna via email or Linkedin and explain Gary’s background (you can include a link to his LinkedIn profile). Tell her what Gary is trying to achieve and how she can be of help. Most importantly, explain to Dianna how this introduction will benefit her.
If Dianna accepts your suggestion, introduce them both via email. In your email, explain how you think they can both collaborate, and instruct them to follow up with each other.
After that, let Dianna and Gary set up the call or meeting.
By using this process, you will protect the time of those in your network and increase the odds of a successful intro.
So for homework, open your Network Tracker and follow the steps above to introduce two people in your network who could benefit from a double opt-in introduction.
Tomorrow, we are going to talk about how to improve your communication skills via conversation experiments.
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