At Corporate Class Inc., we are always eager to learn the perspectives of other professionals and organizations – and how they apply business etiquette and Executive Presence to handle all kinds of scenarios. In this week’s post, Don Fornes, the CEO of Software Advice, contributes his advice on the top three tenets of how to be a good “connector” by making meaningful (and welcome) introductions. We add our own tips to aim for the best possible solutions in an uncomfortable situation.
In his original post on the Software Advice blog A Million Little Wins, Fornes asks, “Are You a Connector – or a Party Crasher?” Fornes aptly conveys that awkward moment when a contact unexpectedly reaches out via email to introduce a friend or colleague – without checking to see if you are willing or available. With very limited time but the introduction already made, how do you decline?
Fornes provides the “Three Tenets of a Good Introduction,” which is a helpful set of guidelines for anyone who plans to make an introduction. The tenets include:
- “Make sure you truly understand what each person has to offer, and where the shared interests are.”
- “Ask both parties if they’re interested in an introduction before making one.”
- “Think about why you’re making this introduction. Does it benefit both people?”
We agree with Fornes on all three tenets; before facilitating an introduction, it is essential to understand the positions of both parties and to reflect on whether the introduction will lead to a meaningful connection.
In addition to Fornes’ three tenets, we also recommend:
- Timing: If you plan to facilitate an introduction to one of your contacts, try to predict how busy his or her schedule might be. Is it the end of the fiscal year? Is he or she in the midst of planning a big event? If so, now is probably not the right time to reach out with another to-do. Based on his or her position and organization, think about what times of year might be less intense for him or her, and reach out then.
- Value: Before making a connection, think about whether your introduction will actually do more harm than good. Forced introductions can create awkward or strained situations, which rarely lead to meaningful connections. This may help you to filter out any connections that may be useful in theory, but not necessarily in reality.
And if you find yourself faced with an imposed connection:
- If your time is too limited, suggest an opportunity to connect that is already on your schedule. Respond with a recommendation such as, “It would be great to meet you. Unfortunately I have a very busy schedule for the next couple of weeks, but I will be at the HR conference in March. Would you like to connect during the networking session at the conference?” This way, you are not declining the introduction but you will not have to rearrange your schedule to fit it in.
- Depending on how well you know the contact who facilitated the introduction, agree this time but gently remind him or her of your time constraints and that you would like to know in advance of the next introduction. For example, try, “I was happy to meet with your colleague to discuss marketing. But next time, please remember to ask me before you make an introduction, in case I have a busy schedule that week.”
Thanks to Don Fornes for providing the foundation for this post – and read his original post here. How do you handle “connectors” who end up being “party crashers”?