Advice from 1517: How to make the most of that great intro.

This is a follow up to my post about how to get a great intro. Now that you have one, what do you do?

At first, you’re probably feeling pretty excited and a bit like this…

One of my beliefs is that human mindshare is one of the scarcest resources out there. So I feel incredibly excited when I connect great people, especially when I think that they could collaborate, form a partnership, work together, or essentially run off into the sunset to do good in the world. I get an incredible sense of joy from being a connector.

Danielle singing, “Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match! Find me a find, catch me a catch!”

After making an intro, there are a few key things that need to happen to make it a full out success.

  1. The person requesting the intro follows up first.

This is just good manners and shows that you understand that building relationships takes energy. Generally these days, if you’re being introduced to someone, go straight to setting up a time to talk in person, video conference, or over the phone. Do NOT send lengthy emails and then something abstract like “What are your thoughts on this?” You’re doing dynamic work, so go to the most dynamic medium you can to interact with others. Which brings me to point two…

2. For the love of all that is holy, get to it and propose a time to talk in the very first email.

One of my biggest pet peeves is seeing people be inefficient with time and energy (and especially having to watch it as a CCed party). Playing ping pong to schedule with this person that you want more time and energy from is an absolute fail. Stop wasting time being polite, they have already agreed to meet with you and have context about your work if you followed the guidelines about how to get the intro in the first place. “Oh, when works for you?” “No, no, when works for you?” Enough. Cut to the chase and pony up a time.

Here’s an example of how to do it right:

Danielle — Thank you for making this introduction. It’s greatly appreciated. Moving you to BCC.
Shawn — It’s a pleasure to connect and I look forward to discussing our work with you. Would you be willing to jump on a brief phone call in the next week or two? I am available most days after 1PM PST and fairly open during the week after Thanksgiving. Ultimately, I’m flexible and can work around your schedule. Let me know what works best for you.
With gratitude,
Reuben

Reuben did a great job of getting down to business, being polite and gracious, being considerate of everyone by proposing times while also being flexible, and also by upgrading me to BCC to show that he’s following up here.

3. Follow through.

I can’t even count the number of times I’ve asked someone, “Oh, how did it go talking to so-and-so?” and hearing back “Oh, we haven’t setup a time yet.”

This is me when that happens:

I’ve already told you that I get really excited to make intros, so the biggest let down is when someone tells me that there’s no forward momentum.

Sometimes I’ll hear, “They haven’t responded to me.” Ok well, write again. If they have agreed to take the time, they usually mean it, it may just mean they aren’t great at living in their inbox. Follow up, propose a time, try again. If you don’t follow up, you don’t follow through.

4. Lastly, check in with the person who made the intro once the initial meeting took place.

As a connector, it’s often hard to keep track of the intangibles that comes out of bringing people together. One wild story along these lines is that an inaugural Thiel Fellow had their company acquired by a mentor in the program. When we asked how that happened, they told us that months previously they met the mentor at a social we threw and they struck up a conversation over foosball. This was an indirect connection that we made that had a significant outcome.

Especially when someone is making a direct connection for you, let them know about the outcomes of the conversation — this is the super highway into a connector’s heart, we like nothing better than to know that a connection was fruitful and created value.

Happy connecting!

Danielle