June 18, 2013

How-to: Make the Best Email Introductions (Part 1)


Part 1: Contactually recommended that I make an introduction

Did you know that Contactually will actually suggest people in your network who you can introduce to one another? You may initially struggle with the concept of sending unsolicited introductions at first. This is quite normal, and is the reason why we offer the 'Skip' button. However, our goal is to get you to use that button less and less. Let's talk about how we can get there. It might be easier than you think.

Overcoming your resistance

Let's face it: a big reason why you're hesitant is simply because you are uncertain of your recipient's response and the impact it will have on your relationship. Even more concerning is what the person might think about you. This is often a fear-based challenge and unfortunately, this increases with how important that person is to your network or objectives. We experience these uncertainties for a few key reasons:

    • We don't want to come across as spammy, sleazy or sales-y.

    • We don't want to deliver an unexpected or unwelcomed surprise to the important people in our network.

    • We want to avoid creating unwanted work for a person, who might feel obligated to act on an introduction that he or she doesn't perceive as valuable.

    • We do not want to waste people's time.

    • Above all, we do not want our introductions to have an adverse effect on our relationship.

As a result, we might react uncomfortably to some of Contactually's suggestions. The question is, are there ways we can change that? We think so, and here's how.

Minimize the risk of a bad experience while increasing the likelzihood that they'll love it.

We need to minimize the risk of delivering a negative experience. At the same time, we need to optimize the likelihood that they will love what we've done for them. If you're good at that, you can stop reading right here. But as usual, the devil is in the detail and we pride ourselves in being pragmatic all the way. Are you ready to follow us?

Reducing risk and increasing the ROI of our introductions

One thing is key: everything we do must have value. We don't care how many messages get sent to us, from whom they come or if they arrive unannounced as long as we feel they are relevant. I wouldn't mind if you sent me an email everyday if it is a referral that I will appreciate. I certainly won't see you as a spammer. That is true for most people.

To make this exceptionally clear, simply make sure that every interaction is meaningful, relevant or valuable, which is especially critical when making introductions. Now, the question is how do we do that?

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How to deliver introductions people perceive as valuable

The five points below, are simple steps that will make it easier to do the introductions that Contactually suggests.

1. Start with easy targets. Start by strengthening your introduction muscles in one form or another. You haven't done this much and aren't used to doing so, which is bound to cause a degree of discomfort. I'd recommend starting to introduce people to others you know well enough so you don't have the fear of damaging your relationship.

2. Focus on less critical relationships and save the more important ones for later. Many people in our network are not super critical to us. We'd end up OK if we were rough around the edges when sending the first introductions via Contactually. You might want to try creating some standing arrangements with people. We all know that some people are in need of certain introductions on a regular basis. As long as we have an agreement with them to send them valuable people, they will react positively.

3. Ask for permission. Create a simple email template in Contactually that checks with your recipient to see if they are interested in receiving introductions. Send that email out and see how they respond. From a value perspective, you've already won since they will know that you care about them. When it comes to value, I feel that intent covers 90% of it.

4. Form a group of people that agrees to receive all introductions of a certain type. Similar to the idea mentioned above, it reinforces that there simply are people who appreciate, at any time, introductions of a certain type. If you have an agreement with them, you can send these introductions and it also makes it easier to think of people to send them to since you know where their interests lie.

5. Know enough about your contacts. It's easier than you think! Follow this exercise: Take three of Contactually's introduction suggestions and think about who you know that would enjoy meeting that person. While you do that, come up with a story about why they would appreciate each other (this is what we will need for the next step and also increases your comfort level of actually performing this introduction). All you have to do is make sure it is valuable and relevant for both parties.

What will make this easier?

First and foremost, act on the introduction suggestions! This is all you really have to do. The more you do it, the more it will become second nature. As long as you think you are doing a good job and matching people based on value, you should be getting the kind of responses you hope for.

Let's assume you have mastered the skill of being comfortable in doing these introductions and now take a look into how you would actually write the email using Contactually's introduction functionality. If the suggestions really don't fit you, start thinking of Contactually as a tool to make introductions every time you think of one you'd like to make now or in the future. If you have connected your various email addresses, social media accounts and address books to the system, all your contacts are already in Contactually. Therefore, making an introduction using Contactually should be very easy.

Stay tuned for the second part of this series, out on Thursday!