LinkedIn Introductions: How Do I Ask for One?

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LinkedIn Introductions are an integral part of the social networking platform.  After all, LinkedIn has given us the ability to search for someone and see how we are connected to them, and it is with this information that we can request an Introduction from our connection just as we request a referral from a friend in real life.  Unfortunately, very few people actually ask for an Introduction on LinkedIn in the same manner that they ask for a introduction in a real-life.  And this bothers me.  Thus, I blog.

Because I am a LinkedIn LION, I receive more than my fair share of Introduction requests.  And I don’t mind, because Introductions are an integral part of helping connect people.  But, in real life, if you were going to ask someone for an Introduction to that special person, wouldn’t you go into some background as to how that person can help you and vice-versa?  And wouldn’t you ask for it in a nice manner with a “thank you!” to that friend who is going out of his or her way to make the introduction?  Of course you would.  I call this “The Personal Touch”, and you will hear a lot more about this term in my LinkedIn book “Windmill Networking: Understanding, Leveraging & Maximizing LinkedIn.”

So why is it that so many people, when requesting an Introduction on LinkedIn, lack this “Personal Touch?”  Is it because LinkedIn has made it too easy to do with their platform?  Why in social media would people act any differently than in real life?

For instance, what would you do if you receive an Introduction request from contact A to your contact B that just says, “Can you please introduce me to (B)?  Thanks!”  How do you go about describing contact A who is asking for the recommendation?  And how do you explain to contact B why contact A wants to be introduced to them?  And what does this say about you when forwarding this meaningless message to contact B?

I hope the above example illustrates the problem here.  And, with this in mind, I would like to suggest how you should actually be asking for an Introduction if you want to  1) provide some value to your contact making the introduction, 2) make it easier for your connection to make the Introduction, and 3) increase your potential success rate in actually receiving the introduction:

  • When requesting an Introduction, always include a short paragraph of how you would like to be introduced.  In other words, write out your branding message so that the person you forward the Introduction request to has some way of describing you.  In fact, in this way, you can ensure that your brand is not diluted and is portrayed exactly the way you want it to be.  Without this paragraph, how will the person forwarding the Introduction be describing you?  You don’t know, do you?  This is especially important if you are requesting an Introduction from a 3rd degree connection, where the message gets even more diluted.
  • Why are you requesting the Introduction?  Did you even bother to mention this in your Introduction request?  Please do so!  And the more details of why you would like to be introduced AND the potential value for the other person in being introduced to you that you provide will ensure a high success rate.  It also allows the person making the introduction on your behalf to look like they are adding value in helping build-up a mutually valuable relationship.  Remember, the person making the Introduction is also putting their reputation on the line.  Make sure it is a win-win-win request!
  • Everyone is busy, so request in a nice way.  In real person you would, right?  Well, social media should be no different.  A lot of us networkers try to be Pay It Forward, so we are more than happy to be helpful to those requesting the Introduction.  But if you are requesting one, shouldn’t you be thankful and asking that person making the introduction that if there is anything you can do to help them out networking-wise to let them know?  Wouldn’t this be a common sense thing to say at the end of your Introduction request?  Then why isn’t anyone adding this sort of language to their Introduction request?

Social media has the potential to connect us, but it also has the potential to make us more impersonal through its platform.  Don’t fall into the trap.  Always add “The Personal Touch” in your communications on LinkedIn or any other social media platform.  Never forget that we are not merely a “connection” but a real person.  You will find that you will make a lot more meaningful relationships, and your network will work for you in a more successful way.  Otherwise, do you really think that that blank Introduction request will be a successful one?

Neal Schaffer
The Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Maximize Social Business, Neal Schaffer is a leader in helping businesses and professionals strategically maximize their use of social media. Neal is the author of three social media books, including the recently published definitive social media strategy book Maximize Your Social. Forbes lists him as a Top 35 Social Media Power Influencer and AdAge lists his blog, Maximize Social Business (formerly known as Windmill Networking), as a top 100 global marketing blog. Neal provides social media strategy consulting and coaching, having worked with Fortune 500 companies and a Grammy-award winning musician. He has presented worldwide on social media at more than 150 events and also teaches social media marketing at Rutgers University. +Neal Schaffer
Neal Schaffer

@nealschaffer

Author, @MaxYourSocial | Founder @msocialbusiness | Trilingual Social Media Strategy Consultant, Coach, and Speaker | 日米ソーシャルメディア専門家|G+: https://t.co/BqaJvubiP8
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Comments

  1. says

    Neal,
    Good post. I decided to learn about social media and you’re posts have been very helpful.

    However I would disagree with your basic premise that people are less personal on Linkedin than in real life regarding referrals. I’m a freelance writer and an investment advisor. My livelihood depends on referrals and have found that most people are ham-handed in asking for them and non-responsive in giving them back. For most people, their “All about me” attitude shows rather quickly.

    This bothered me at first, but I learned that it’s just an easy way to weed about people I want to deal with. If someone gets a referral from me, but never returns my call afterward, that’s fine. They’ve shown that I don’t want to work with them. The people who do respond are gems that I value greatly.

  2. says

    Neal,
    Good post. I decided to learn about social media and you’re posts have been very helpful.

    However I would disagree with your basic premise that people are less personal on Linkedin than in real life regarding referrals. I’m a freelance writer and an investment advisor. My livelihood depends on referrals and have found that most people are ham-handed in asking for them and non-responsive in giving them back. For most people, their “All about me” attitude shows rather quickly.

    This bothered me at first, but I learned that it’s just an easy way to weed about people I want to deal with. If someone gets a referral from me, but never returns my call afterward, that’s fine. They’ve shown that I don’t want to work with them. The people who do respond are gems that I value greatly.

  3. Neal Schaffer says

    Hi Howard,

    Thank you for your comment and compliment.

    It is interesting that, while you disagreed with my basic premise, what you are saying is exactly what I mean. It’s the “All about me” attitude which shows up more in social media than in real life. That is exactly what I was referring to as “impersonal”.

    And I agree that if my help is not valued, I just weed them out. And, yes, those that do respond are the real “gems” that there should be more of on LinkedIn!

    Thanks again for your thoughtful commentary and I do hope to be able to continue to posts that you find insightful.

  4. says

    Neal,

    Very good post! The other thought to keep in mind is that unless the middle person removes the initial request for an introduction, the initial request gets passed along the with the whole process.

    So even if you are good friends with the person you are requesting to do the introduction, you still want to keep your comments professional. The request for an introduction is not the place for comments that are not relevant to the request being made.

    I have had to clean up quite a few requests where people had included comments that would not be a positive reflection on their brand.

  5. says

    Rich,

    Thank you for your comment and excellent additional tip for all of us. Yes, you need to be careful as all of that information does remain on the Introduction that gets passed on. Branding is of the essence!

    - Neal

  6. says

    Rich,

    Thank you for your comment and excellent additional tip for all of us. Yes, you need to be careful as all of that information does remain on the Introduction that gets passed on. Branding is of the essence!

    - Neal

  7. Neal Schaffer says

    Hi Howard,

    Thank you for your comment and compliment.

    It is interesting that, while you disagreed with my basic premise, what you are saying is exactly what I mean. It’s the “All about me” attitude which shows up more in social media than in real life. That is exactly what I was referring to as “impersonal”.

    And I agree that if my help is not valued, I just weed them out. And, yes, those that do respond are the real “gems” that there should be more of on LinkedIn!

    Thanks again for your thoughtful commentary and I do hope to be able to continue to posts that you find insightful.

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