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1-to-1 Business Introductions: There Are Rules, You Animals

Most people don't worry about having to do business introductions. I'd say that for 90% of the world, introducing someone to a person inside your network for the express purpose of mutual gain isn't a thing. Biz card exchange

For 10% of us (myself included), the requests come on a weekly basis. It's a thing and it's full of peril, as the tweet below (email subscribers, click through if you don't see the tweet) from Valley investor Chris Sacca outlines:

If you ask for an introduction, once it’s been made, it is on you to follow up first.

If you make an introduction without double opt-in, it’s on you to come up with your last words before the firing squad.

— Chris Sacca 🇺🇸 (@sacca) July 26, 2021

Sacca's fired up about it and and as a top .01% target of unsolicited business introductions, he believes the following to be true:

All business introductions you make to me should have my permission before you proceed with the introduction (this is the double opt-in) reference.

Is that true and necessary?

Maybe. Maybe not. Two years ago, I remember hearing from a CHRO, who I would consider a tier 2 network contact of mine (close, but not vacationing together, LOL), that he hated when people made introductions without asking him. That gave me pause, and I started asking that person before I introduced people to him (average of one to two per year).

But just because Sacca and that CHRO think you should always ask doesn't make it true. Here's my rundown of whether permission should be requested and granted before I make an introduction to my network. You can think about your own network if you're a person who makes introductions as part of your normal business life:

--RULE #1 - Don't make sales intros for people you don't know well and aren't at least a tier 2 person in your network (see below).

--Intros to Tier 1 People - These are the closest people in your professional life. You naturally protect these people but also 100% know what's good for them. With that in mind, they get intros from me WITHOUT their approval. I get them and know them best. (this is 5-10 people in my life)

--Intros to Tier 2 People - This is the next circle of influence out. You're more than a casual acquaintance with these folks. Whether you need to ask permission probably depends on the value your introduction is providing to them. If they get as much or more from the introduction as the person being introduced, they get an intro WITHOUT an opt-in. But the value has to be that obvious. If not, getting opt-in is probably warranted. (this is probably 30-40 people in my life)

--We Interrupt This Lecture to Talk About the People Who Report To You and are otherwise in your span of control—see Tier 1. You know what the people who report to you and are in your organization 2-3 levels down need, right?  And you're the boss? Asking for permission seems to be a timid action that wastes your time and undermines your authority. #fireaway

--Everyone Else - Asking for permission seems to make sense, unless there's so much value to the introduction that it couldn't be called into question.

You know, like introducing them to Chris Sacca.

See what I did there?

BTW, this is all based on the authority you hold in your domain. If you're a baller, you're going to ask permission less than the average person. Do you think Chris Sacca is asking for double opt-in when he makes introductions?

KD out.



Andrea Colantoni

No question that Rule no. 1 should apply at all times!

However, as a recruiter I tend to think that if my client has trusted me with a search, he trusts my judgement and doesn't mind if I introduce people to him/her judiciously - and sporadically.

Personally, I don't mind introductions because for me it's part of my job - in fact, turning down someone graciously can be the start of something good and you can obtain a fair amount of inside information by extending a little bit of professional courtesy. But then again, I am not a big shot VC with 200 unsolicited emails per day and an ego bigger than Jupiter.

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Hey there!

What an amazing post. Truly insightful!

Working in a SaaS based company has made me realize that Rule no. 1 is undoubtedly on point!

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