To be a great networker, stop constantly chasing down new contacts. Instead, cultivate your relationships with existing contacts. The easiest way to do this is simply to introduce people who are not already connected to each other. This is the single most powerful way to increase your own relevance and impact within your network.
If you think of a networking map where people are individual nodes within the network, you want to increase the “weight” of your node to be a great networker. You can do this the hard way – by connecting TO new people all the time. Or you can do this the easy way – by connecting others THROUGH you.
Brokering introductions instantly makes you a great networker!
There are many reasons for this:
- You are in a power position. Being the person to make introductions is a big power play, no matter how small your network is. If two people don’t know each other yet can benefit from knowing each other, and you make the introduction, you’ve just engaged in a simple and effective activity that increases your visibility. Nice job!
- You establish your relevance. If you notice how people can benefit from knowing each other, that shows you know their business enough to help them along.
- You’re perceived as thoughtful. People underestimate the value of just being nice. Studies show that people often feel compulsion to return gestures and favors. I don’t say this to suggest you manipulate the situation. I make note of it to show how hard-wired people are to acknowledging nice gestures. Here, you confirm that you’re kind and thoughtful. Frankly, it warms people to you. That’s a good thing.
Learning to broker introductions is easy and straightforward.
Here’s how to do it:
- First, notice either where there are parallels between people or where there are “structural holes” in a network between people.
- Parallels indicate where two individuals have similarities and would likely track well together.
- Structural holes are more nuanced – they indicate where two people are trying to solve different sides of a problem and talking to each other can provide the missing link they need to get over a hump.
- Next, do a double-opt in; broach the topic with each person separately. When you ask Mary if she’d like to meet Sue and vice versa, you orient them to the reasons for the potential connect, establishing your relevance. People rarely say no to the prospect of an introduction!
- Finally, do the warm introduction over email.
The best thing about brokering introductions as a way to be a great networker is that others perceive you favorably, regardless of how aggressive the individuals decide to pursue the relationship. In other words, you are only brokering the introduction; you are not actually brokering the relationship.
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