Relationship building is important. For jobseekers, it’s critical. As a self-identified super-connector, I introduce people on a weekly, sometimes daily, basis. I am always grateful when people acknowledge the introduction and let me know what resulted. I call this closing the networking loop.
The etiquette surrounding email introductions can be a little unclear. Here are a few tips on how to ensure the super-connector in your life is happy and will continue to provide links to valuable contacts:
1. Acknowledge the introduction. A simple “reply all” from at least one party in an email introduction takes care of this. The connector can then be removed from the email chain, and the conversation can go where it will. It’s even better when both parties acknowledge the introduction. If the connector never gets a response from either party, it can feel like wasted effort. If you don’t feel comfortable responding “reply all”, at the very least tell the connector you’re moving forward and will keep her posted.
2. Report back after you meet with your new connection. Some introductions are easy and others require more effort. Part of the joy of being a connector is the knowledge that this effort has resulted in a new relationship for you. A quick note makes all the difference. You can also update the connector as the relationship develops.
3. Feel free to let the connector know the person never responded. If after a week you haven’t heard from the person you wanted to speak to, please report back. The connector may be able to nudge that person along or come up with someone else for you. It’s also good to know if this person may not be someone to reach out to in the future.
4. Don’t feel guilty if you cannot follow through immediately with the introduction but do eventually respond. It’s entirely okay if you cannot immediately speak to someone you are introduced to. The important part is to acknowledge the introduction. Say something like, “I’m really grateful to Melanie (the connector) for introducing us. I’m in the middle of a big project right now. May I reach back out to you when my schedule clears up?” It’s likely that person will still be available in a few weeks or months if it makes sense to reach out again. If it doesn’t, that’s okay too. This could be a time to briefly thank and update the original introducer.
5. Not every introduction will be wanted or useful. Still acknowledge the introduction. I’ve certainly been introduced to people who I didn’t particularly have the time or energy to talk to, and where there wasn’t a clear sense of value to me. I’m sure I’ve made introductions that weren’t always welcome. It’s still important to acknowledge the introduction and handle the situation by being polite and respectful. If you continually ignore emails of introduction, you may not be able to call upon people for help when you need it most.
I consider these the basics. Not every connector will have the same preferences. When in doubt, it’s okay to simply ask what is preferred, especially from someone who regularly makes introductions for you. Maintain the networking loop and encourage your connector to find you new relationships by maintaining the one you have with her!