All introductions are not referrals, but all referrals require introductions. Perfecting the introduction e-mail is a MUST. Generally we send one e-mail message addressing both parties, say what they do, where they add value, and why we’re making the introduction.
THE INADEQUATE INTRODUCTION
Ever gotten a note like this? “Jim, you and Deena should connect. Jim’s website is xyz.com and Deena’s in my BNI. I leave it to you guys!” You probably thought, “What the heck was that?” Now you’re chasing down what the other person does for a living, their company model, and trying to guess what exactly is the need or the basis for the introduction. You need context and, to do your part by responding in a timely manner, you’ve got to clear a space to do some work. Normally, this is fixable. Send a private note to the referrer asking for some context, the need, and the conversation so far. That’ll let you gauge how developed the referral is, and go from there. But it really shouldn’t have to go down this way.
THE BETTER INTRODUCTION
Jim, you’re a stellar web designer with a strong focus on user experience and delivering the most value to every visitor. We’ve known each other for a year as trusted BNI partners.
Deena, you’ve got your own pastry design company that has grown to 4 full-time staff, with a bevy of corporate contracts for events.
Your brand, Tasty Pastry, creates a craft bakery experience for executive gatherings and corporate sponsored occasions.
You need a new website that’s both responsive and appeals to the sensitivities of a corporate audience.
I’ve spoken to you each privately about it, and Deena you’ve asked for the referral. I think this could be a solid match.
Talk amongst yourselves!
WHY THE BETTER LETTER?
Some silver tongued wordsmith or slick networking guru could no doubt improve it a couple of notches, but it certainly hits the basics by stating:
- Full names
- Each party’s business model
- Client’s business context (what do they do and for whom?)
- Client’s specific need (including goal, purpose, or intention)
- Referral partner’s key value or differentiator!
- Summary of the initial conversations (to prime the pump and let the 2 parties continue from there).
It’s a solid way to introduce by e-mail and can even serve as a template when we’re busy, moving fast, and can’t take the time to hit all the bases off the tops of our heads.
HAVE THE CONVERSATION FIRST
Notice, the note implies you’ve already reached out privately to each party, BEFORE sending a blind e-mail to both. That avoids the pressure of each party having to quickly figure out what to say to the other person without CONTEXT. Do BOTH parties a service by determining the potential client’s specific need, and that they understand and WANT the referral. Confer with the potential vendor to let them know what’s coming, with the basic context information they need to be prepared. That few minutes on your part ensures the introduction e-mail is more of a restatement of the conversation so far, and the introduction itself is bringing them together to CONTINUE around that.
Whatever your variation on the theme, a solid introduction gives both parties sufficient information, insight, and context to proceed, and builds on a conversation you’ve already had with each party. So write the better letter, and see more of your referrals succeed!
Originally published at BNI 45 NYC.