You've run across an ideal contact on LinkedIn. You don’t know them, but an acquaintance of yours does. What should you do? Should you use LinkedIn’s introduction feature to have your connection make the introduction?
Similar to the best practices for offline networking, the answer is predicated on how well you know the prospective introducer and how well they know the introducee.
Clearly the objective is to leverage a friend’s coattails to build a relationship with a new contact. We have to be careful though to make sure that our relationship with our “friend” is as good as we think it is and that their relationship with the person that we want to meet is similarly strong.
Some thoughts that should help you
- Is your contact an advocate? - Only ask when you feel confident in your relationship otherwise your credibility will be lost. In his book, Dig a Well before You’re Thirsty, Harvey MacKay created the perfect metaphor for the order of activities in the networking process.
- Assure that there is a connection - Just because people are “friends” on a social media platform doesn't mean that they have a strong relationship. Asking someone to introduce you to someone that they don’t know well doesn't exercise the type of leverage that is possible.
- There is no harm in going direct - It is important that you don’t limit your success because you lack an introduction. Pick up the phone, send an email or an InMail. You’ll be glad that you did.
Introductions are a truly powerful tool in business networking. Focus on being worthy...the rest will take care of itself.