I think of myself as nurturing networks and communities as well as individuals and organizations. And one strategy I use is network weaving. Network Weaving describes the connection made between two people I know who don’t yet know each other as closing a triangle, because in a network map, this is exactly what it looks like!
Here, in this post, I want to talk specifically about my practice of making introductions. I had been connecting people for a long time before I met Ken Homer, but his introduction format really set the bar for me. When he introduced me to another one of his connections, I felt like I was glowing! Wow, that is how I want people to feel when I connect them.
Sure, I want them to feel good and associate that with me. Less egotistically, I want the time I take to make an introduction to be time well spent for all of us. I want them to feel great about connecting to the person I introduce them too. I want it to be useful all around. This is not about quantity for me, it is about quality. So, here is the pattern I use, developed in part through what Ken demonstrated.
I described it on twitter today.
- describing strengths of each
After stating the purpose of the email (useful for any and all starts to email conversation), describe relevant and positive strengths of each person to each other.
My wording for this is usually, “Person A, please allow me to introduce you to Person B. Person B is passionate about x, has terrific skills in y, and wants to explore z. ” Followed by the inverse, “Person B, please allow me to introduce you to Person A. Person A is passionate about m, has terrific skills in n, and wants to explore o.” This is a rough format, each one is different, but they all fit within that general pattern. Also, the adjectives are always chosen to fit the people I am describing. Use your own.
- point to alignment & mutual benefit
I like to point to something that makes the people I am connecting clear about what they have in common. I don’t mean that they both read books. I mean that they are both within a particular field or sub-domain, know people in common, or have a similar passion about making the world a better place (and do so coming from a similar mindset).
I also like to point out what I imagine might be the mutually beneficial initial outcome from each party taking the time to make the connection. It might not be what actually happens, but it gives them some sense of why I am making the connection and what each might gain from it.
- name small first step
Sometimes I forget to leave this in. However, after receiving several wonderful network weaving emails from others, I realized how vital this is. I received some letters, saw the alignment, and yet I might not know what to do about it. So in my introduction, I have been adding some suggestion for a first step – “In a 15 minute phone call, I think you could discuss your shared interest in x.”
That examples covers part of #2 and also #3. It doesn’t have to be long. Often I might have had an extended discussion with one of the parties, so I can point to what I have refined as a conversation starter for them.
I find that this often makes clear too what role I want one to play to the other. Maybe I am asking Person A to mentor Person B on a subject area. Or maybe I want Person B to introduce Person A to someone within their network who can help in a more targeted fashion. Being clear on roles can help people feel the respect I am offering them as well as make choices about what they want to be.
I hope these patterns help you make connections between two people.