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Whatever You Do, Do NOT Screw Up an Intro

Introductions are vital to good networking. Here are 7 ways to not screw it up.
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I am a firm believer that the right intro can change your life.  At AlleyNYC, one of my biggest value-adds is introducing the right people. However, one of my greatest pet peeves is when people screw that intro up.  Here are the lessons I’ve learned on not messing up a good intro.  

1. Respond. Look, there is a reason you are getting the intro. Someone went out of their way to have some level of thought about introducing you to someone. This means that they care. The worst thing you can do is not respond. Keep in mind that I’m referring to email. If you do not say hello back to someone in a person-to-person intro, you are just a jerk. Stop reading this because there's nothing I can do to help.

2. Short and sweet. Just because I introduced you to someone awesome does not mean you have to write a book back to them. Nobody, I mean nobody, wants to read an email in article format. Do not take this time to tell someone your life story. Make it short and sweet and to the point, with the goal of eventually having a further discussion. I will talk more about this in my future article, “Don't Suck at Email.”

Related: Difficult People Suck: 5 Tips on How to Deal

3. Best behavior. If you do not know social etiquette by now then please refer to the end of number 1. But since I’ve witnessed this so many times, I feel I have to go into it. Be polite, even if you do not find the intro valuable. Please keep it to yourself. Remember, the person intro-ing you probably has more intros up her sleeve. If you are a jerk, I am very confident you will not get anymore intros and your chances of meeting someone awesome will decrease exponentially.

4. Do NOT be awkward. I know that there are those of you who can not help this one, frankly, because you do not know you are being awkward. For these people, my suggestion is a great book called “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” Like with anything else, the quickest way to get to Carnegie Hall is to practice. Practice with your friends. I remember when I was younger and learning how to sell over the phone. I practiced my pitch with my friends by simply talking about what I was selling. If they agreed with me, they bought it. If they bought it, then I knew that what I was speaking with a clear, concise message, and not being awkward.

5. Follow up. Understand that if someone makes an intro, it’s not only about you. It’s also about the person who is doing the intro. If you do not follow up, you are not only making yourself look bad, you are making the person doing the intro look bad as well.  This is like the saying, “No good deed goes unpunished.” Again, even if you do not value this particular intro, have the sense to follow up because the next one may be awesome for you.

6. Stop being judgemental. In my opinion, this is the biggest lesson I have learned when it comes to intros. I remember I was introduced to this person in my old office and thought, “This person is nice, but I have no idea why I am being intro’d.” This same person later hooked me up with my first investor of my new company. If I’d had the attitude of, “I am too important for this person,” then I would never have been able to start a badass company like AlleyNYC. Throw that judgemental crap out the door, or the door will be shut in your face.  

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7. Be thankful. This is a HUGE one for me. Thank the person who did the intro. He/she went out of their way during their busy day to introduce you. Shoot over a thank you. Below is an example of an awesome thank you letter. It was sent to me by one of my first members who I later introduced to his current employer. He sent me this along with a very good bottle of tequila. Thank you, Tim! (But no thank you for the hangover.)

Image credit: Jason Saltzman

Part of my motivation for writing this is for the people who do the intros, too. Anytime someone you introduce screws it up, send them this article. My goal is to share some lessons with you that may help you in your journey to win big. If you are insulted by this material, then I can't help you. For those of you I can help, until next time, let’s hustle ON.

Related: 6 Tips for Accepting Failure and Moving On