For those of you who are reading this article expecting to learn something about how to make a great first impression when you meet someone, or how to introduce yourself in front of people, in a new group, school, or at work – stop reading.
It’s not about you.
I want you to think about a time when someone told your story in front of you – better than you could tell it yourself. How did it make you feel? Did you feel warmth? Did you smile? Did you feel like you had a deeper understanding of what that person thought of you? Or what about the flipside – did you ever hear a story about someone from another person you trust and think: “Wow, I want to get to know this person better!” Did you feel a deeper connection to that person to this new stranger in that immediate moment? This is how every introduction should feel.
Those of you on @Twitter are undoubtedly familiar with #FF, or Follow Fridays. If you are not familiar with it, every Friday people on Twitter will suggest other people to follow – pretty simple way to meet new people. Do you know how it started? I’m going to go out on a limb and say no. Follow Friday can trace its origins back to one tweet by @Micah, better known as Micah Baldwin.
This idea caught on and caught the attention of other thought leaders on Twitter. Eventually the hash tag #FF became the de facto query to join the conversation. I have always loved the idea, but I must admit – I don’t participate as often as I should. I am missing out for sure. But, maybe I don’t participate as much because it isn’t as authentic as I like introductions and relationships to be.
For most of my education and career I have been a gatherer. I collected information, lessons, ideas, and yes, even people. Then I reached a tipping point. I had so many people and resources at my disposal that they became disposable. This was a problem. I took for granted all those people and all that information and worse off, I would keep them all to myself. I feared that my ability to have deep meaningful relationships with others would be trampled by another person’s ability to develop what I thought was a competing relationship. This isn’t the case at all. Then I progressed to become the namedropper, thinking I was sharing. After that, I was the person who always had a “guy.” You need a mechanic? I know a guy. How about a developer? I know a guy. You need a publisher? Sure I can connect you with someone.
I am often asked for introductions a la LinkedIn style, which I gladly oblige. But to be honest, I don’t enjoy it very much. Not necessarily because it doesn’t add value, it definitely can, but introductions can be done better, more authentically, and in a way that all but guarantees a fantastic new relationship, not just another connection. About a month ago @DavidCohen, the founder of TechStars had a post about introductions and how awkward they can be for the person doing the introduction. We have all gotten that email or ask to introduce Person A (the one doing the asking) to Person B (the one doing a favor to me by talking to Person A). David talks about the "double opt-in introduction." This involves asking Person B if they would oblige an introduction to person A before making a blind introduction. Yes, this is ALWAYS important. Granting access to a network is not only about gaining permission from the gatekeeper, but the people in the network themselves. Oftentimes without this permission and commitment from Person B is a commitment to me, not Person A, and as I will soon show you, not a commitment to themselves.
It wasn’t until a couple years ago that I shifted and then all of a sudden some of the lessons I learned along the way seemed to find me with some really specific language that I still use today for all of my relationships. Below are my three rules for relationships, and by my rules, I mean I use them and preach them – I did not come up with them.
- "Relationships are a place to give, not a place to get." - @TonyRobbins
- "Relationships are like muscles, the more you use them the stronger they become." @KeithFerrazzi
- "Relationships don’t keep score, transactions do." - @KeithFerrazzi
Now, I spend my time cultivating relationships for others. I would much rather introduce people on my own and generate unexpected intentional relationships. I love seeking people out and connecting them out of nowhere, just to add value. Over the past several years I have spent my Friday’s doing exactly that. Introducing people who should be talking to one another. More often than not bringing these two people together is the product of weeks of intentional cultivation. Usually, these two people don’t have any idea that I am researching them, figuring out the path they are on, and choosing others who can help them along their journey to who they aspire to become or what they aspire to create. I do my homework and it is worth it.
Below, I am going to walk you through a recent introduction I had he pleasure of making and show you exactly how to make the best introduction you could ever make.
Last fall I started noticing a shift in some of the posts my friend @DanikaBrysha was making on Facebook. She started posting pictures of her modeling, articles about healthy body images, and telling the world about Healthy is the New Skinny, a campaign that aims to bring a message of health, joy and responsibility to the beauty and fashion industries. I loved this idea and started talking with Danika about it. I learned more about my friend’s story that I never knew before and why this campaign meant so much to her. Simultaneously, I was having conversations with @AnneGillaspie about branding, developing campaigns, identities for businesses, individuals, and in the scope of the entertainment industry. Anne is one of the better-kept secrets in branding. Anne had also been modeling and acting for years on the side while she served as the Brand Manager for a CertaPro Painters.
I began mentioning. (A concept also from Twitter that I incorporate into real life or #IRL. I will have a more detailed post about the power of mentioning soon.) I started telling Danika’s story to Anne and Anne’s story to Danika, in person. I knew they should be talking to each other. Anne had been exploring the world of modeling again but on her own terms as a “plus-size” model. Danika was kicking butt as a “plus-size” model but needed to start focusing on building her own brand. It was pretty clear what needed to happen. After putting in the foundation for a relationship between these two talented women and gaining permission and anticipation from both, I sent the following email. I will break it down for you into an easy to model script for your introductions later in the post.
Dear Beautiful Ladies,
I wanted to take the time to introduce the both of you who are both amazing and need to be friends. So here is your official introduction
Anne, please meet Danika Brysha! I first met Danika through Dance Marathon at CU while we were raising money for Children’s Hospital (“for the kids”). She now lives in LA and is doing great things in many ways. Danika is both a model and advocate for healthy and natural models, speaking to the need for positive body images. Danika also has been working on set for shows at HBO and is expanding her lens for what her future looks like in entertainment. She is seriously awesome and has a ridiculous amount of hustle and energy in addition to being openly inappropriate and hilarious at the same time. You can see her work at www.naturalmodelsla.com and read up on her blog at www.danikabrysha.com.
Danika, meet Anne! I first met Anne through her now husband Trent, which I met through Ben. Ever since then Anne and I have been secretly dating behind her husbands back, so don’t tell him. All jokes aside, Anne is one of my favorite people. She has an amazing way about her that radiates as she engages with others. Anne, like you has feet in several worlds of business, branding, acting, and modeling. She works locally in Denver as a Brand Manager for CertaPro Painters and is building their brand and her own nationally around some really disciplined common sense principles. Her site is www.annegillaspie.com but you will find her most active on Twitter: @AnneGillaspie - you know that thing I keep telling you to use more - Anne can help you with that.
Here is why I want you two to be friends and talk:
1. Healthy is the New Skinny - Danika is killing it and has built a great stage for the cause and for modeling on your own terms and more importantly making a difference in the lives of young women through speaking around the country. Anne has been modeling and acting for years but would like to expand that space of her life in speaking and hosting as well.
2. Branding - Danika is currently building her own brand and seeing lots of traction for very little effort but wants to be purposeful about it - Anne is amazing at this and will help you a ton as you develop your strategy.
3. Neither of you are offended by anything and thus can make jokes out loud and then laugh about things that shouldn’t be joked about.
Point being - make it happen, and as always, if there is anything I can do to help either of you - let me know.
P.S. Talk about big dogs, you both like them.
I have the same general structure for all introduction emails. Please steal this script. Use it. Test it. Tell me how it works for you. I have copied it below for your convenience:
Dear Person A and Person B,
I love both of you and you both will love each other.
Person A, meet Person B. State the origin of my relationship with Person B. Show why that matters to you (the introducer). Person B is (enter descriptive text about what this person does, followed by why they are amazing and mean something to you). Introduce a way for Person A to do their homework on Person B.
Person B, meet Person A. State the origin of my relationship with Person A. Show why that matters to you (the introducer). Person A is (enter descriptive text about what this person does, followed by why they are amazing and mean something to you. Introduce a way for Person B to do their homework on Person A.
Set a specific vision for Person A and Person B to begin their conversation. I always like using a list of three things, not sure why, I just do. Be SPECIFIC and clear about how Person A and Person B can add value to each other right off the bat.
- What Person A can do to add value to Person B.
- What Person B can do to add value to Person A.
- Something that unites them both in a non-related topic.
Something that shows you love them both.
Your Name Here
You have one final job – follow up. Follow up individually with each person and get feedback. Was that relationship valuable? What are the next steps for you both? How can I be more helpful? For the most part people will follow up with you before you have a chance to circle back, but it’s important to do your part to support a relationship you helped lay the foundation for.
Yes, it’s long. Yes, it took weeks to build this relationship. No, it wasn’t easy. But talk about a way to build a relationship that will yield results for a long time to come. Inevitably with each of these emails, I always hear two things:
- Thank you so much for all the compliments, you are great.
- Thank you for the introduction to this person, we talked and we are working on X, Y, and Z.
Anne and Danika have now developed this awesome new friendship and discovered they had more in common than I even anticipated. They are helping each other do the things they both have a passion for.
Here is the thing, if you build relationships and make introductions in truly authentic and meaningful ways – people will respond positively, not only to the relationships, but also to you. They will start doing the same, start mentioning you, start figuring out how they can help you, and you will continue to do the same for them. This is what @Garyvee’s Thank You Economy is all about – invest in people, in relationships, and in giving. Make a conscious effort to put people in proximity with others who share their values, direction, and vision for the world and you will always be surrounded by a community of people who will do the same for you.