Five Tips For Asking For A Networking Introduction

Know someone who knows someone? Then ask for an introduction! You don't have to be pushy or annoying about it but a simple question shouldn't hurt you, so there's nothing to lose! Once you have summoned the courage to ask, though, there are some basic things to bear in mind to make the introduction smooth and worthwhile for everyone involved:

Think It Through: There are varying schools of thought on whether to ask someone you have never met face-to-face for an introduction, so if you don't know the person you're asking personally (only virtually) make sure it's an established, mutually beneficial relationship before asking for a networking introduction. If it is someone you have met in person but only occasionally, or you are uncertain about asking, check in with a trusted colleague, mentor or friend before asking. Or use good old-fashioned empathy: ask yourself how you would feel if they asked you? If you have any doubts about asking it is better to err on the side of caution and cultivate the relationship further first.

Do Your Homework: Before asking, be ready to explain specifically why you think the introduction would be mutually beneficial and why you think they are the best person to make the introduction. It's not enough to ask someone simply because they know someone you want to get to know; putting the introduction in context shows diligence and thoughtfulness.

Do The Work: In many cases people appreciate it if you draft a sample introduction letter/email for them. Be sure to include all the information mentioned in the bullet point above. The person can, of course, edit it for their own voice and facts, however providing at least the basics for them saves them time and increases the chances they will follow through and make the introduction. If you are feeling uneasy about putting words in their mouth at least ask if it would be helpful for you to draft the framework of the introduction or not and let them decide.

Be Considerate: Always consider the person you are asking before your own needs. Approach them the way you would want to be approached, and be respectful of their time and consideration. This is also true with your follow-up; if you have asked and they have not made the intro yet, don't overwhelm them with follow-up requests. Generally speaking, for someone you know professionally one respectfully worded follow-up request is acceptable. If it is someone you know very well you may ask more than once, but in most cases if they don't do the introduction after one follow-up ask they are not going to do it.

Be Reciprocal: Be prepared to offer something to the person you're asking, whether it's an introduction of your own, a thank-you card or some other demonstration of gratitude, offer them something appropriate for their time and consideration.

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