A client of mine recently asked for proper ways of getting successful introductions from her connections. She was afraid that the way her network was introducing her was actually backfiring. A recent e-mail introduction from a contact ended with, “… you would really enjoy meeting her. I hope you two meet quickly, because she’s desperately looking for work.”
Desperate or not, now my client has been labeled as a desperate job seeker to this potential new contact. It’s likely that this person would not be interested in taking the time to meet with her.
Introductions also go wrong when you are trying to arrange a meeting with the person to whom you were just introduced. This is a common approach: “I would love to meet you for coffee. Here is my background for your reference.” In Seattle, coffee isn’t enough to motivate someone to hear your sales pitch. Just because you were introduced, it doesn’t mean the other person will want to sit down with you.
Introductions will only go well if, first, you are carefully introduced and, second, if you follow up properly.
When you ask your connections to introduce you to someone, you should send them a “soft intro.” Soft intros are introductions where the sales aspects are left behind. You want to consider this for two reasons:.
Brand control: You want to control how your connection is marketing you. To do this, you need to help them with the language you want them to use when they’re introducing you. If you give them the verbiage, chances are they’ll use it verbatim.
Motivation to respond: We’ve talked numerous times about how Seattleites aren’t open or responsive to sales pitches. If you want someone to respond well to an introduction, you need to find a way to build their motivation to want to meet you.
Here’s an example of what you might send to your contact: “Thank you for agreeing to introduce me to your connection at Boeing. Here’s a little bit about my background that he/she might find useful.” Then, briefly describe, in a sentence or two, the most prestigious points of your career. This gives the recipient motivation and urgency to want to follow up with you. But remember to keep it brief; the more you talk about yourself, the less likely you are to get a meeting.
How to follow up:
When making contact with the person to whom you were just introduced, try using a “cat approach” as opposed to a “dog approach.” Dogs are in your face, trying their hardest to get you to give them attention. Cats, on the other hand, are coy. They lean in just enough for you to want to pet them, and then they play it cool.
For example, you might say to your new contact, “I’m not one hundred percent sure whether Boeing is the right fit for me. I was hoping to talk to you for a few minutes to learn a little about the company so I can make a decision.”
You’re not going in with the hard pitch, “I would love to meet you because I would be the perfect fit for Boeing, and I’m hoping you could help me a get a job there.” Instead, you’re trying to make the other person comfortable, using the softer approach of “I’m undecided. Can you help me?”
You might also consider the flattery approach. “My friend has spoken highly of you. In my research of your background, I’m impressed with how knowledgeable and established you are in the industry. I was hoping to talk to you for a few minutes to get your perspective on my next career move.”
We’ve talked earlier in previous posts about flattery. It’s a powerful form that makes people feel good, while increasing the odds of them responding to your messages.
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