“It seems like a lot of work.” This was a comment I received at a recent workshop I did for one of our local universities during the mutual introduction portion of my Becoming Competition Proof presentation.
I couldn’t argue that it wasn’t work. I mean… it is. What thing worth doing in this life isn’t prefaced by work of some sort? So I could only say, “The work is well worth it.”
I believe in the power of adding value. I believe in the power of staying top of mind – or my preference, top of heart. I’m a firm believer in the power of building strong relationships. I believe in the power of networking with a purpose. To me, that means expanding my reach being a powerful “connector.”
So it only follows that I firmly believe in the power of the mutually beneficial introduction.
We all know the ins-and-outs of networking because we’re all doing it in one way or another. Many aren’t effective at it, but they’re going through the motions. Great.
I think the greatest facet of networking is the ability to connect people who could benefit each other. What if you’re the conduit – the only way that those two people would be connected?
Whether you are ravenously dedicated to making mutually beneficial introductions (let’s call them MBI’s from now) like me or are simply checking off your requirements before your next referral leads group meeting, there’s so much power in being that connector.
So what’s the difference between a referral and an MBI? From where I stand, a referral is more transactional while an MBI is more collaborative.
Someone refers someone else so that the third party can get their transaction taken care of by the referred.
Yeah. Super fun.
An MBI is an introduction made between two people who would both benefit from knowing each other, from growing a relationship with each other. It’s two-way street. Subtle but different.
There’s nothing tied to an MBI other than feeling good about what you’ve done. There’s no fee. There’s nothing to “gain.” MBIs are for your personal count of “adding value” points. Not that you’re doing it only for that, but those good vibes and natural connections happen organically.
Like a wave crashing into the shore, you just can’t help it. You are out there giving, adding value and it’s going to come back to you even if you tried to avoid it (which really, you should never be trying to avoid that.)
Let’s get practical. What are the actual benefits?
Staying Top of Mind
You meet a lot of people at networking events. Growing your network is dependent on your ability to be able to grow your relationships with those you meet. At the beginning, it’s easy. You follow up after the event, schedule a coffee meeting or a lunch, get to know each other a bit. But if there’s nothing transactional that can happen right away, it’s hard to keep the pulse going. Stay in touch by providing value via mutually beneficial introductions. Every time you meet someone that they would work well with, send an introduction. This way, you are still on their ‘radar’ without having to schedule something. You are always adding value by doing this.
One of the greatest compliments you can pay to someone in business is a referral. One of the best ways to help them grow their business and their network is to offer them a mutually beneficial introduction. I’ve made introductions that have turned into million dollar collaborations. What if they hadn’t met any other way than by that introduction I made? Don’t be tied to the result. All of my introduction e-mails end with ‘will let you take it from here’. This means the ball is in their court and it’s up to them what they are going to do with it.
If you are at a networking event and looking for ways to become a powerful connector, everyone in your network is there with you (in spirit!). You are amplifying their business, their message and their reach by staying receptive to possible connections. The more you do this, the more people are out there doing this for you as well.
The Great Reconnector
This is probably the most powerful of all reasons why getting into this practice is important. As a coach, I work with a lot of people who are transitioning from one career or business to another. These days people are being more bold in the pursuit of their dreams and they are walking away from the perceived ‘comfort’ of their jobs to build their own businesses.
If I had a nickel for every time someone tells me “Well I had great people in my network for what I want to do now but I haven’t talked to them in years and it would be weird for me to reach out to them out of the blue” I’d have a metric-ton of nickels.
First off, believe me that they’d love to hear from you (generally), especially if you’re doing something new. Don’t you love hearing from people in your past who you haven’t heard from in a while?
Well, if you are still not comfortable with that, there are a lot of ways to find out what they are doing now (LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.). If they are still in the same line of work, reach out to them and ask them if it’s okay to send them an introduction to someone they may benefit from knowing. Rarely will you hear a “no.”
Note: Make sure it’s genuine. Make an introduction that will benefit both parties. If you can’t do that – it’s not worth anyone’s time.
I guarantee you this will be a great way to reignite and pick up where you left off without it seeming like you want something from them right off the bat. Then you can chime in on what you’re doing now, which I’m sure they’ll be interested in.
These are just a few tips on MBIs. As you grow accustomed to doing them more often (and you’ll want to – the good vibes are a bit addictive), you’ll begin to pick up on details and solutions that you hadn’t noticed before. The more people you connect, the more people you’ll find connections for.