One way to connect is through the introduction feature that allows you to introduce two people in your network who could benefit from knowing each other. It can be an excellent way to support your connections.
This week, I caught up with someone through LinkedIn who I had met while organizing a speaking engagement. She said, "I take pride in my LinkedIn network and want to ensure that people like you don't get solicited as a result of the connections I have." My considerate acquaintance raised an important watch-out: introductions can be unwanted and become burdensome commitments.
To be effective and appropriate, LinkedIn introductions need to have a specific purpose, such as connecting someone who is looking for information with a person who has it. Recently, I introduced someone who was considering making a career change with a person who had made the same move. The specific purpose of the introduction was to share experience, perspective and insights. It was a great match.
General introductions typically aren't effective and can be viewed as impositions. Since there is no purpose other than to meet, they lack a catalyst for conversation and relationship building. Also, they can be seen as inappropriate by the party who isn't interested in making a new connection. Many people are overloaded and don't have time in their busy days (and nights) to chat when there is no concrete reason to do so.
Here are my do's and don'ts of making LinkedIn introductions:
- Do make introductions between people who needs specific information with those who have it
- Do realize that you are asking a favour of the knowledge provider
- Do ask yourself if you would welcome a similar request from one of your connections before making it
- Do send a note to the information provider asking permission to make the introduction – this is the only way to be sure that the connection is welcome
- Do state the purpose of the connection in your introductory note
- Do provide an overview of each person's background to help kick-start the initial conversation
- Do end your note by saying you hope the connection will be of mutual benefit
- Do follow up to see how the exchange went – this will help you assess future connections
- Do keep a record of your introductions so you have templates for future ones – it will also help you build your skill in introduction writing
- Don't assume people have time to meet new people
- Don't make general connections just because someone wants to meet a person in your network – most will come across as prospecting requests that will damage trust and harm your relationships
- Don't make connections where the person requesting it only wants a favour from someone in your network (a job, an introduction into his or her network, etc.)
- Don't make multiple connections with the same person in your network without confirming he or she has the time and interest for them – if not, it is an imposition
- Don't make introductions to people in your network that you don't know – your introduction will not be seen as authentic if you can't recall how you know them