One of the best ways to increase trust with a new professional connection is to help them build their network. Here are some tips on how to be a better connector and referral partner.
First, schedule a one-on-one meeting with this person to get to know them better. Learn the best ways to schedule a meeting. You'll want to devote at least an hour to this conversation.
What to do during the one-on-one meeting:
Tip #1 - Ask questions
Be curious about the person. Learn about their ideal client, what kind of business they do, and even about their hobbies outside of work. Here's a list of questions you can ask to spark conversation.
Be sure to keep up your side of the conversation with stories that relate and give them some information about yourself.
Tip #2 - Make sure you want to help them
You may decide that you don’t trust this connection or want to keep them in your network. And that’s okay. Be polite and engaged in this meeting, and IF you want to help them, proceed to the steps below.
Tip #3 - Listen for keywords
Specifically, listen to what might be helpful for them. This could be new connections to people in a similar industry, a resource for a project, or their ideal client.
For example, when I hear someone say they are trying to learn more about how to write small business contracts, I might tell them about the Small Business Development Center or the Pikes Peak Library business resources.
Tip #4 - Choose the connections wisely
You’ll want the people you connect together to have a reciprocal benefit to meeting. BOTH will benefit from connecting.
For example, this person is a baker and the new connection owns a coffee shop who wants to expand their food offerings. Or this person is an event photographer and the new connection has an event company that’s expanding their vendor network.
Tip #5 - Ask them if they want to be connected
Learn from my mistakes - I've told someone I WOULD introduce them to a few people, only to be told – “Thank you, but I don’t need your help.” This taught me to be sure to ask first if they would like to be connected to specific people and explain my thought process as to why it could be beneficial.
What to do after the one-on-one meeting:
Tip #6 - Check in before connecting
It is good practice to shoot a quick note to the person you will be introducing IF you are unsure if they would want to take a meeting. Remember – you want to facilitate relationships that would be synergistic, not a situation that creates a burden for the other person.
For example, if I meet an event photographer that wants to connect with a wedding venue, I might send my contact at the venue a note first. The venue may get hundreds of requests to talk with photographers and it might not be valuable for them to meet another one.
I once had a new acquaintance give a photographer my name as a “warm lead” in her BNI group. At the time, I was working with another photographer for all of my marketing needs, and was not looking for someone else.
If she asked ahead of time, I might have told her I was not interested, but instead I felt pressured to meet with this stranger. Worse yet, the photographer was very pushy during the meeting and did not even try to learn about my goals or who I was. It was not a fun situation and it ruined any level of trust I had with the person who originally “connected” us.
Tip #7 - Send out a clear connection email
This should be sent within 1-5 days (earlier the better). Use a quality email subject line and make sure it is quick and to the point. I like to use this one - Intro: Name & Name OR Intro: Company name and person’s name
The format that works best for me is quick and to the point. Copy both parties on the email.
Hi Name and Name –
This is an intro email connecting you both.
NAME 1 is (job role) for X company and specializes in XYZ. Background sentence 1 & 2
NAME 2 is (job role) for X company and specializes in XYZ. Background sentence 1 & 2.
The reason I thought you’d like to connect is ……
Here’s another example:
Tip #8 - Explain the WHY
You definitely want to let people know why you are connecting them. This helps the people connecting to know what they can talk about and give them the urgency TO meet. Without that information, one of them might blow off the email. Watch this video to hear a story about an awkward meeting with a new connection and the lessons learned.
Tip #9 - Give yourself a pat on the back
You’ve done your part! Hopefully you’ll hear back about how their meeting went. You can even schedule a follow-up coffee with the person in a few months to build a better relationship. If you want to meet more connections and build your own referral network, check out this guide to Colorado Springs networking events.