The Beauty of LinkedIn Introductions

While I suppose there’s the possibility I’m preaching to the choir on this one, and that most of my blog readers are already LinkedIn fanatics, like myself, but I couldn’t resist sharing a few thoughts today about WHY I think LinkedIn has become a significantly more effective way to make introductions between people than most other methods.

Long story short, I typically make at least 5-10 referrals and connections on behalf of my clients throughout the average day, and when doing so, I almost always recommend that my clients initiate the contact in question through a LinkedIn “Get Introduced Through a Connection” request.  Why is this the case?  Why do I push this particular avenue of communication so strongly, versus simply doing things the old-fashioned way and handing my client the individual’s e-mail address or phone number?  Or contacting the person in question directly on my client’s behalf?

I’ll give you several reasons:

1) When contact is made through the LinkedIn interface, it gives both parties (if they’re members of the system, which is usually the case) the chance to learn about each others’ background, work history, and qualifications prior to the conversation — which not only helps verify that there are relevant grounds for discussion, but also speeds up the process and improves the caliber of the overall information exchange.

2) Going through LinkedIn ensures, beyond all doubt, that the referral in question is a legitimate one — since any LinkedIn introduction has to first go through and be approved by the referring intermediary in question, so the recipient can be 100% assured that somebody didn’t pull a fast one and just sneak a peek at somebody’s Rolodex.

3) Using the LinkedIn system also allows the intermediary party to “grease the skids” by adding some words of endorsement, when passing the note along, as well as to explain the reason(s) behind the introduction, in case it’s not perfectly clear why the two people in question might benefit from chatting together.

4) Asking somebody to initiate a referral via LinkedIn puts the ball in the hands of the actual beneficiary (e.g. my client) to take the first step, ensuring that they truly value the referral, are serious about it, and are willing to be proactive in making the introduction happen.  And while some might suggest that this is a selfish or uncooperative way to go about things, I’ll stick to my guns in saying that one shouldn’t have to “force” referrals on people and that anybody seeking networking assistance should be more than willing to invest an extra minute or two to bring a quality networking opportunity to life.

5) Last but not least, I find that by asking people to run various referrals through LinkedIn, the timing just works better for all concerned; my client can wait until they’re fully ready to request the introduction, it takes less time on my end to coordinate the referral, and the receiving party can let the LinkedIn note sit in their inbox for several days until they’ve got time to respond.

So these are my arguments, at least, for why it often makes sense to process referrals and introductions through the LinkedIn system as a first option, versus other possible channels.  Do any of you out there agree?  Disagree?  Obviously, a lot can depend on the specific context of the situation, and if both parties aren’t members of LinkedIn this route doesn’t work, but I find that 80% or more of the referrals I make this way tend to go quite smoothly — and a win/win connection ends up being made by all concerned!  This success rate strikes me as being significantly ahead of the referrals I’ve made using more traditional methods, where it doesn’t take much (e.g. a misplaced e-mail address, a miscommunication, a question about the legitimacy of the intro, etc.) to derail a perfectly well-intentioned networking effort!

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9 Responses to “The Beauty of LinkedIn Introductions”

  1. Kyle: Thanks for your comment and a LinkedIn Introduction request shouldn’t take any longer than a normal e-mail to arrive. So if your friend hasn’t seen it yet, it’s hard to say what might be wrong, but two initial possibilities would be 1) the introduction message got routed to their junk/spam filter by mistake or 2) your friend has multiple e-mail addresses and might have an old one, or one he/she doesn’t check much, set up as the “primary” address on their LinkedIn account. Beyond that, I can’t think of what the problem might be. Typically the introduction requests arrive almost instantaneously…

  2. Great post, Matt. I’m new to LinkedIN and just learning my way around the site. I do have a question for you. I requested an introduction thru a connection of mine. I sent the introduction request and it’s showing that I have 1 introduction request “en route.”. However, the person hasn’t received my introduction request after about 12 hours time. How ling does this normally take? Do you have any suggestions?

    Thanks for your time.

    Kyle

  3. Matt,

    Great post, as always. One more positive to a LinkedIn referral is that often the individual requesting the introduction does not realize the “missing” link between yourself and the third degree party in question. This allows me to explain the relationship and suggest that they craft the message again. Similarly, if a message is to pushy or does not fully explain the purpose of the conversation you can make some suggestions to ensure that the message is clear.

  4. Matt,
    You present the “Pros”, but there are some “Cons” that have prompted me to do it the “old fashioned way”.
    i) Many folks are LinkedIn neophytes, or at best, LinkedIn familiar, as versus LinkedIn power users. I’ve experienced confusion by both parties (referrer, referree).
    ii) Some folks don’t tend to their LinkedIn profile in a timely manner. They visit their page every couple of weeks or so and deal with InMail, Contact requests, etc. So the “old fashined” email and phone referral can be more timely and effective.
    In conclusion, it depends on the parties and how savvy & active they are with LinkedIn.
    Great article, great points, keep it up!

  5. Thanks for another good post and yes I’m a singing member of the choir and champion of LinkedIn. My only caution about asking for an introduction is that not everyone has the same sense of urgency as the requester does. One needs to have patience with other people’s schedule. You Matt as a ‘career guy’ are more likely to respond to such requests in a timely way because you know how important it is to your clients. Whereas a regular working bloke or blokette don’t all appreciate the need for speed in moving the request along.

    I would recommend using groups as a way to expand ones own network. We all have free access to people in groups so you can correspond directly. Inmail is another option when one has a premium membership or is willing to pay per inmail. Another method that I’ve used (with caution) is to invite someone with a one degree connection to one of my contacts to my network. To be successful and not get people irritated is to only do this when your contact is a strong one where there are close personal connections. It is a bit bold so should be used with discretion.

  6. Don’t y’all just hate it when Matt’s right?

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