I have noticed a trend within myself recently: The more I help others when they ask the more I tend to get from others when I ask.
I am not sure if its a natural phenomenon, me being more attentive to others needs or others starting to be more in-tune with where I sit in our industry. Regardless, I discovered really cool things happen when I am more open to giving to people.
The giving I am referring to is of my time, relationships and mind-share. This realization has come to my attention as younger founders or less experienced entrepreneurs more frequently reach out to me for help, perspective or introductions. This is natural, fine with me – given they are respectful in their ask – and something I enjoy doing.
Yes, that means I’d be open to responding to you too if you need it!
Interestingly, many times when I meet with someone they are very thankful and surprised with how generous I seem to be. My response: I feel it’s what we are supposed to do if we are farther down the road in our journey than someone else (referring to providing guidance and intro’s if the situation calls for it.) All I ask is they do it too once they are at a level where they can help others in this way. Most first time founders don’t run in the same circles as investors or wealthy former founders, and they have to get connected somehow, someway. Founders getting introduced to well known people, investors or customers was how pretty much how this whole industry got started. Let’s keep it going…
The interesting thing I notice is how much natural karma is created when you are genuinely more open to helping people when they reach out.
The adage I now live by: help people first and people will no doubt help you.
I have recently noticed I am introducing more people to each other. It’s enjoyable and something that falls into my “pay it forward” bucket.
But, through this process I have also learned how to properly execute an introduction so both people get the most out of the experience. The last thing you want to do is burn a contact by flooding their inbox with unwanted introductions, placing yet another time commitment on their already full plate.
It takes a bit of social intelligence to best set up the introduction. Here are a few thoughts as you go about connecting people in your life.
- If someone you know asks you to introduce them to another contact, first determine what they are looking for so you can determine if it’s actually a good idea, and something you are willing to associate yourself with.
- If not, graciously decline or let them know it doesn’t seem like a good fit for what they are requesting. Maybe offer someone else you think might work better.
- Then, touch base with the requested person first and brief them with the idea of introducing a contact to them. Answer their inevitable question of “what do I get out of it?” If they are favorable, ask them if they mind if you email intro them to this other person.
- Do not just throw an unwanted email into their email box without first checking with them to see if they are willing to respond and follow through with meeting the person.
- If you get the green light, send an email with both in the TO: field.
- Give the email a subject such as “Jane <> Joe” so it’s obvious it’s an introduction.
- Give a short description of each person and why they are looking to meet the other, make it brief but pointed and include why the two people will add value to each other. The person’s ask should be front and center.
- Suggest a coffee meeting, phone call or chat over a beer or something that sets the expectations of the interaction.
- End it by saying “I’ll let you two take it from here” so you can step aside and allow the two people to communicate without them feeling like they need to keep you CC’d or included in future emails.
Although basic stuff, if not executed correctly email intro’s can do more harm than good. Take note!
Note: I am writing this because I have seen a few intro’s botched in my day, and if not careful, a person can burn social capital by annoying people they are connected with. Also, when you are on the receiving end of an intro, acknowledge and thank the person doing the introduction and place them in BC, so they are them removed from future communications.
Image by flickr user n_corboy