Making good introductions: it’s all about etiquette

We’ve made and received loads of business introductions over the years and formed some opinions about what makes a good one for both sender and receiver. Here’s our take.

Introductions are a key part of new business for many organisations. According to a survey from Smart Insights, referrals make up 65% of B2B business leads. More recently, research by Finances Online suggested that referrals as a lead source grew by a staggering 425% during the first wave of lockdowns during the pandemic.

So whatever your sector or industry, it’s highly likely that you’ll be intro’d to a new contact by email, or you may intro one of your contacts to another. All being well, it could be the start of a positive working relationship. On the flip side, some introductions can slip through the cracks.

Maybe the email wasn’t particularly clear, or you left it an embarrassingly long time to reply and ultimately brushed it under the carpet. This is where etiquette comes in, and with just a few simple steps, you can up your introduction game and turn them into referrals.

Sender etiquette

No one likes an unsolicited introduction

If you’re connecting people, you should first of all check that each party will welcome the intro. No one likes an unsolicited introduction. If one of the parties specifically requested the intro, then half your work is done – but don’t half-ass the rest of it!

Contact each party individually laying out what introduction you plan to make and ask whether it’s of interest and if they have time to take the connection. The time part of the query is key – it shows you respect them and if the intro is not for them, it gives them an easy out and everyone saves face.

Everyone on the same page? 

Checked both parties are up for the intro? Great! 

We’ve probably all had some unexpected connections, and the conversation gets a little awkward if it’s not right for you, or you don’t even understand why you’re receiving it. 

Keep it concise

Write a short email cc’ing both contacts, and introduce them to one another with thoughtful details a la Bridget Jones. One sentence each usefully suffices. I find it helps to repeat the reason for connection and the relevance of the ‘connectees’. If you can’t think of what to say, is it a good connection at all? 

Receiver etiquette

Time is ticking – follow up!

Sometimes intros can catch you off-guard. Let’s assume the sender has at least prepped you that it’s coming, as above, and maybe when it comes in you’re time poor or knee deep in something else. In any case, it’s polite to reply within a day, cc’ing the introducer and acknowledging the connection. This at least lets your sender know it’s been actioned and initiates contact with the third party. There’s nothing worse to a thoughtful introducer after making a warm intro, than wondering whether the two parties have in fact connected successfully. Want other intros in future? Best say thanks.

Booking in a chat

You can use your acknowledgement email as a buffer to buy a little time, and it’s a good opportunity to suggest a call, or promise to follow up ‘properly’ at a better time. Just don’t forget. Better still, set yourself a calendar reminder. Personally I like to offer a direct link to available slots in my diary and let the ‘connectee’ pick and choose. 

I’ve encountered various cool apps for booking calls:

  • Microsoft Bookings comes as part of your Office 365 subscription will schedule an MS Teams call for you
  • Calendly does a nice job too and connects with Google, Outlook, Microsoft Office and iCal
  • You Can Book Me is also pretty neat 

Master the art of the one-time-only ‘reply all’

Stop hitting reply-all after the first acknowledgement – no one needs to be looped in after the ‘thank you’. If you want to avoid reply all altogether (as there’s alwasy the danger of leaving the sender on CC for the next 500 emails), then simply reply directly to the sender acknowledging the email, and then send a separate message to the third party. This technique, whilst a little more direct, does save you getting into a three-way chit-chat which could slow the conversation down.

Congratulations, you’re now an introduction pro.

Honestly, it does sound very basic when you break it all down like this, but as we said at the beginning, we get busy, things can slip off our radar, or we can misjudge a message, whether reading or receiving.

What’s important is that a relationship starts on a good foot. Much of our work is optimising our clients’ customer journeys, and that initial contact is where it all begins and where first impressions are made.

Get it right off the bat, and good things will follow.

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