Sunday, February 12, 2012

If it's been said already... may still merit saying!

So much has been said about doing email introductions properly ... and so much of it feels like common sense. So the only amazing thing is that people continue to do it so badly. And perhaps one of the worst parts of this phenomena is that the people making the poorly-formed requests tend to blame the person asked for not responding, when the responsibility really falls on them to make the entire process effective.

How can we eliminate this ill will and save lots of people time? It's hard to top these posts by the prolific VC, Mark I'll just underscore some of these points with my own twist in the hopes that this in some small way reduces some frustration and wasted time for all in the future.

(1) Make it Forwardable: This is my ongoing mantra and listed as Suster's #4 here. I've lost count of how many long email threads I have with friends or contacts sussing out how well I know someone, how I suggest reaching out to them, etc, only to end in, "Thanks!" The expectation is then for me to package up all the thinking (and whatever attachments) were embedded in the previous emails to create a version that is digestable by the prospective intro. Making me realize my friend etc. is absolutely clueless or zero in the empathic category.

(2) Short Does Not Equal Focused: Point #1 above does presuppose that the person packaging up the request understands what is useful for someone getting the intro.  Which is why it's helpful to also read the "Short" and "Focused" top 2 points in Suster's post.

But don't be tempted to think "short" necessarily translates into "focused." Today I got a hugely general intro from someone I know saying I "should meet" this other person because they are doing something vaguely pertaining to what I'm currently working on. Worse, the reply from the person being introduced only mentioned wanting to "network" to raise money. No elaboration on or links to what his project is and even worse: no mention of why I specifically am someone he wants to meet. Does he know anything about me, or can he identify whetherwe have something in common, etc. that would make "networking" a truly valuable endeavor?

(3) Do The Work. In the examples above, a common theme is that it's on me to either package things up or devise a useful connecting point. Why me? If you are asking for an intro, you should have done your research on me (or whoever you want me to introduce you to), and laid out some specifics on exactly why an introduction would be valuable. As in, make it clear on what your ask is and what tangible next step you propose: Coffee? Meeting at an event? A brief answer to a question or two?

However, if your goal is to simply want to "get connected" and "network," I encourage you to rethink your definition of networking in an era where time is becoming one of the rarest commodities.