I was recently asked by a friend how to appropriately connect people to one another when networking.
What do you say to the person who you are trying to connect them to?
How do you explain what they do to others in the right way, etc.?
Well, today I want to explain to you how to connect other folks to each other so you can do something great for both parties and feel like a pro-networker.
The first thing I like to recommend to people who you are meeting and networking with is to get to know what that person does, beyond just knowing their title.
Sure, you know someone who is a personal chef or a veterinarian or lawyer- but what kind? Most professions have multiple versions or areas of expertise and there is not a one-size-fits-all approach in most jobs/careers.
Knowing what someone does is crucial to helping connect them to someone else.
The same can be said for knowing what someone needs help with.
I give the example of knowing someone who needs a personal chef to increase their health and decrease their cholesterol. Maybe this person is gluten intolerant and needs someone to help them create meals that fit their lifestyle better. Cool. But if I connect them with a personal chef who has no interest and/or no experience making gluten-free meals, they may not be the best fit for connecting. If connected without knowing this, these two have a sad awakening when they find out. And it could come back negatively on you. We don’t want that.
The good news is sometimes your connect may know someone that they can refer your person to and can help point them in the right direction for what they are looking for. The fact of the matter is you do not want a failed connection to fall on you due to not asking the right questions to begin with. If someone were to connect you to someone that you need to work with or speak to, you’d want them to at least the basics on the person they are referring you to, right?
Connecting people can be great for spreading knowledge and increasing our networks, but if we know enough about what our network does, it makes connecting a whole lot easier. I promise.
The second thing I like to recommend is that people ask permission before connecting folks. Not everyone wants a stranger calling them out of the blue (even if they name drop or know you from way back when). Keeping this in mind, I always ask people who have professions like hair stylists, massage therapists, chefs, or nail techs if they are okay with me giving people their information because someone is always looking for a good massage, mani/pedi or up-do.
Other professions might require a bit more effort on your part.
When it comes to different types of professions like lawyers, life coaches or web designers- people who work on a contractual basis or are very niche focused- I always reach out to them before sending someone their way. Even if they’ve told me it’s okay to send them people.
I do this for a couple of reasons. The first reason is you really can’t guarantee how that person is going to respond to someone randomly hitting them up, not knowing that they are connected to you. Your connect may be more likely to expand their schedule or work around an overbooked schedule when they know it’s a referral vs not knowing it’s a referral and sending the person somewhere else.
Asking first can keep your friend and referral (+ yourself) from being disappointed at a missed opportunity.
Another reason it’s good to contact the person first is to check on them and make sure things are going well and they are even still doing the same thing that they were doing before. People switch careers and paths and even niche down all of the time. If you haven’t talked to your chef friend in a long time and now they solely work with vegans, it would be nice to know that before sending someone to them who is looking for a paleo diet.
Checking on people as well as giving people a heads up is a great reason to reconnect and let the person know that you have someone with whom you’d like to connect them with.
This also works the other way around. Say you have a friend who needs a personal trainer and is looking into it and you have a friend who is a personal trainer and has the time to get on the phone or contact your friend and help them out. Don’t just give your personal trainer friend their phone number and tell them to hit your friend up about personal training. Make sure it is more of an agreed interaction and connection versus an intervention or solicitation type of a call. It typically works out better when both parties are in agreeance for meeting and talking.
Having said these things, I really think that if you take the time to nourish and keep up with the relationships that you make and the people you meet, connecting people will surely be a breeze.
Keep a book or a list in your phone of the folks you meet along the way and what they do. Refer to it and make sure you know it so that you can seem super up to speed, caring and attentive when you come in contact with new folks as well as see the folks on your list again.
It isn’t what you know but who you know and when connecting people, you can easily become the go-to for having the best repertoire of amazing people if you just take the time and make it work.
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