I have what I call a “medium big network” – about 2,000 people on LinkedIn (yes, I know almost all of them) and several thousand more people through our fashion tech meetup group and other public or private networking groups I belong to (not to mention the friends-of-friends / network effect that I imagine connects me to a whole lot more people.)
I also really like to help people, and frequently blurt out “You should talk to so-and-so!” when I meet people in person. I see connections everywhere I look. Consequently I offer to make (or more often, get asked to make) a lot of introductions.
At the same time, I’m often the object of a lot of “meet this person!” emails as well. I’ve had people thrown at me for reasons I can’t discern, and I’ve also had really respectful requests for connections. As a result of all of this, I’ve set up some ground rules, which I’d like to share. They’re pretty simple:
- No, I won’t give you someone’s email address. If they wanted it to be public, you would have found it by searching for it.
- The best intros are DOUBLE OPT-IN INTROS. I am going to ask them first if they’re okay with me making the intro. I will email someone one time, and if they don’t get back to me, I’ll assume they’re not interested (for any reason they chose) and I won’t email them a second time. My network is actually my personal one-to-one relationships with a lot of individual people and I respect each and every one of them. Related to this, if you ask me for an intro and I don’t get back to you, assume I have my reasons, too.
- Help me sell them on wanting to meet you. This means 100% of the time, you’ve got to give me a benefit to them for taking the time to meet with you. Put another way: you hoping to talk to someone, or you benefiting greatly from the intro, is not enough. Maybe you can be a resource to them, or maybe you’re looking for a great advisor who you’ll give equity to, or maybe you’ll quote them in a blog post or a book. If all you want is to pick someone’s brain or try to sell something to them, that’s the reason I deleted your message asking for an intro.
- Once I make an intro, respond to them immediately (don’t ever expect them to reply first) and move me to BCC. This both lets me know that you’ve used good ettiquete and followed up quickly, and takes me out of the email chain.
- Let me know if something comes out of the introduction. Did you get the job? Is there an interview I can read or a partnership I can hear about? Let me know what happened, so I can stay connected to my network. It’s a nice thing to do for me in exchange for asking me for the favor, and it will make me much more likely to get excited about making more intros for you.
As I said, I really enjoy making connections, and it’s something I’m really good at! I’m blessed to know so many amazing people. This post is written out of a combination of frustration and love. If I sent it to you, it’s because I want to be able to make an intro for you. If someone else sent it to you, it’s because they do, too.
Liza Kindred is the founder of Third Wave Fashion, the author of the upcoming book How We Buy Now: The Future of Commerce, and a frequent speaker about wearables, IoT, and fashion tech. Feature image from heatherzynczak.com. Third Wave Fashion has been your fashion tech think tank since 2011. We publish the first ever printed fashion tech magazine, Third Wave. Follow us on Twitter or subscribe to our newsletter to stay on top of the latest in fashion tech + wearables.