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How NOT to deal with business introductions

Biting SmartphoneRecently, a friend sent across an e-mail introducing me to a fellow business owner she felt I should get to know. Her e-mail gave a warm introduction about me to the business owner, and from the business owner to me, explaining our respective backgrounds and achievements in glowing terms, along with an overview of why she felt it would be of benefit to us both to connect.

Grateful for my friend thinking of me in this way, I promptly responded to the e-mail and shared a bit about myself with the business owner I was being introduced to.

The response

The next day the business owner responded to my e-mail, courteous in his response but simply offering a one-line thanks for the e-mail with no other follow-up.

My friend clearly felt a bit awkward at her friends response. I assured her not to be. I suggested the business owner was very busy and that I’m sure he’d get in touch properly when he was ready.

But we both knew the repercussions of his response.

The consequences

While the introduction wasn’t important to the business owner – who was probably working long hours with lots of urgent tasks on his plate – and while the business owner probably felt a courteous short reply would move this “additional work” off his plate – the reality is that he’s signalled to both my friend and I that we aren’t important to him. Or at least, not important to him right now.

The result? My friend will now think twice before making any further introductions to the business owner – some of which could be very important to him, and I won’t bother to follow-up with the business owner for fear of interrupting his busy work again – so our relationship won’t develop, and in turn, I won’t make any introductions to him – some of which could potentially be very important to him.

And from a position where my friend thought highly enough of the business owner to be looking for opportunities to offer him help, I’d hazard a guess that they probably think a little less of him right now.

How to deal with introductions

So how should the business owner have dealt with the introduction? Well, he might have:-

  • Thanked his friend profusely for thinking of him and taking the time to make the introduction.
  • Warmly greeted me and rather than asking “What is it you do?” shared with me what he understands  a little of what I do based on what he’s seen of my web-site/social media – demonstrating he’s taken an interest in who I am already.
  • Advised me that he’ll connect with me directly so that his friend isn’t CC’d into the rest of our e-mails, cluttering her inbox with our conversation.
  • Asked if there was a convenient time to pick up the ‘phone and give me a call/Skype so we could get to know each other further.

It may be the business owner and I had something in common. It may not. But if his friend took the time to make the introduction, then we should take the time to respect that generosity by exploring the introduction further.

Conclusion

I asked the question recently is your e-mail important, or does it just make you feel important?

Many times we place too much priority on e-mails, distracting us from the important work we should be doing.

But we should also be aware of the importance of some e-mails and how our response (or lack of response) to those e-mails may make others feel.

As the old saying goes, “You only get one chance to make a good first impression.”

 

photo credit: alphadesigner via photopin cc

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Richard Tubb

I help IT companies grow their businesses in a scalable and sustainable way. My clients are business owners of small to medium sized IT firms.
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Comments

  1. I think that you are absolutely correct in your views. There does appear to be a real problem in these days of so many communication methods that person to person communication has become a real problem and basic courtesy has fallen by the wayside.

    The number of people that do not respond or promise a call back and don’t is frankly appalling, as far as I can see these people are far to important and their time much more valuable than yours or mine.

    I worked for a man that employed 2500 people across Europe, every person that contacted him got a response, everyone he promised to call he did and when he couldn’t do it himself, a director of the business was ‘directed’ every contact and person was important he knew that they talk to other people and you never know what they say!

    You may not win any business through these contacts, but not handled correctly they can cost you dearly when your business comes up in conversation at the golf club or where ever a wrong glance or look can kill that sales campaign

    • Paul – thanks for the feedback and I’d agree, lack of courtesy now often seems to be a price paid in keeping up with our modern fast-moving lifestyles.

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