Introductions and Referrals

How many people do you introduce per year? For me, it’s about a dozen introductions. Introductions are much more powerful than a cold call to someone you want to meet. When a trusted third party introduces you, you are much more likely to connect with the other person.

In business, many sales and marketing folks would agree that a referral is worth a hundred advertisements. If you hear about a product from someone you trust, you are much more likely to engage and buy.

The funny thing is that my method of introduction hasn’t changed in 20 years. In short, I send an email. So many areas of our lives have been “disrupted” and modernized with different services. So why isn’t there an application for introducing people or referring products? Maybe there is and it just hasn’t become popular enough?

LinkedIn has a feature called endorse and another called recommend. However, they are not very targeted. The recommend is just a little blurb about the target person and endorse is clicking a link saying someone is good at some task. It doesn’t scratch the itch of “a trusted person is vouching for them”.

I have many LinkedIn connections, but I honestly don’t know 90% of them. How can the world tell the difference between people I vouch for and people I am loosely connected to? Google tried a feature called circles a decade ago, but it failed to take off. I think there are many reasons for this, but circles by themselves were not a hit.

When I introduce people, I usually follow this format:

  1. WHO
    • LinkedIn URLs and maybe personal websites/portfolios
  2. WHY
    • Why am I introducing these people? Is someone looking for a job? Just networking? Friendship or dating connection?
  3. WHEN
    • Is there a time frame involved? (Example: They are visiting your area next week)
  4. VOUCH
    • I usually describe my level of enthusiasm about the person. I’m never negative, but I have varying degrees of love. It would be great if some of this was hidden from one of the parties.

Imagine if there was a way to introduce people easier and better. Something that is super fast. Maybe I don’t have to type all the details. Also, it could keep track of people I have vouched for or introduced to for future reference. Maybe it could help me to introduce an aspiring designer to all the people who might be open to mentoring or even hiring them. Bulk introductions in this case might be appropriate. I am sure all the recruiters I know would love this.

For referrals, there is a real business opportunity at stake. Money changes hands. Referral fees might be a business opportunity. These often have a video component to them. Right now, marketing departments literally send film crews to a customer to get a good referral recorded. This seems expensive and inefficient, although they do yield a professional looking result.

There are websites that have reviews, like G2Crowd, but again, the problem is that it is not a personal connection. It’s just random people out there. Trust is a major factor in reviews. I know several marketers whose whole job is ginning up the reviews on sites like that.

The bottom line is that personal connections are crucially important, but aren’t managed well with current products and services. For now, I am stuck using email and filming expensive referrals.

If there was a better way to introduce or refer, would you care?

Whatya think?