Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Importance of an Introduction

A few days ago, I received an email from a stranger. The subject line had the name of another relative stranger. I opened it anyway. It read:
Good Afternoon Nikki,

[Name Redacted] has shared your information with me in the hopes that the same positive working relationship s/he and I share could be developed between us. I would love to have a phone conversation to see if my services and connections would be advantageous for you.
I had to wrack my brain for a few moments to remember who the reference was. Then I remembered, it was someone that I had "met" a year ago on LinkedIn. I had a few brief email exchanges with the person last year and hadn't personally heard anything from the person since that time. Now, I'm getting an email from someone they know who thinks we can do business together.

How odd!

Look, I'm not opposed to establishing advantageous business relationships among your contacts, but I do believe there is a proper way to do it. I definitely don't approve of a person turning over their contact list to someone they kind of know or have done business with.

I had to email the person who had given out my email address and ask them who this person was that was emailing me, because as you can see, the email is pretty vague. I was told this:
[Name Redacted] and I work together and been friends for years. I highly recommend their payroll services. Hope you are well. 

See, this is what I mean. This is the reason why a proper introduction is important. Would it have killed this person to send me this email FIRST and asked if it would be OK for them to share my information with their friend/business associate instead of giving the business associate my contact information and what's called a "cold lead."

The way this happened left everybody to fend for themselves. Me, to ask who are you and what are you selling. The salesperson, who is trying to sell something to someone they don't know. And the person who should have done the introduction in the first place, because now I'm deleting them from my contacts. (After a year of no interaction, it doesn't really matter)

As I often say, don't be that person!

Giving out people's information for the purpose of helping someone else sell something feels kind of grimy and it doesn't sit well with most people (whether they tell you or not).

I don't know if there were any potential kickbacks involved or if there was any arm-twisting that went into it, but a little warning would have been nice. I had to explain that I'm not in need of any payroll services (a fact that could have been learned by asking me first) and politely thanked them for thinking of me and wished them well in their future pursuits.

If you know 2 people you think can benefit from knowing each other, it only takes a few minutes to either ask for permission to share their contact information or cc both parties on one email and introduce them to each other. I've only been "scolded" for doing the latter once, and I thought that was odd. I used the person's business email (which was publicly available on their website) to introduce them to someone I thought they'd like to know - especially because they lived a few houses away from each other and worked in the same field - and I got told off in an email for it. That's not normally the response, but I digress.

Your contacts and your relationship to them should be respected at all times.

How do you feel about it? I'd love to hear from you in the comments.