How to ask your most successful friends and connections for an introduction

Johnny ‘Bob’ Spence
by Johnny ‘Bob’ Spence on November 10, 2019
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Not many of us are able to build connections through the Royal Family but most of us have access to introductions via the most successful people that we know. Your existing network of connections is your PRO Rainmaking platform to either creating more connections or generating introductions to source potential clients.

This 5-minute read is designed to support you build your network more successfully. Some of the typical problems and angles that appear to be common to professional Rainmakers are explored and ideas put forward.

Rainmakers develop their closest contacts

My rainmaking problem is quite simple:

I don’t know how to approach my most successful friends after all these years and ask them to refer me, especially if they respond: “Why are you asking me now?”

This year’s best connection can introduce you to next year’s best client opening if only you knew how to ask.

On a day-to-day basis you are 1° of separation from your ‘market-of-maximum-relevance’. Just one introduction from someone who knows you well enough to recommend you to your next strategic connection or opportunity. 

Yet so many people attend mixer events, hospitality events, conferences and then connect with people that they vaguely know. Then through this common ground of attending the same event initially place more value in these new relationships than existing ones.

Rainmakers develop their contacts

Would you chose to build your network via your reputation or through your ’60-second elevator pitch’? Your reputation delivers your opening position.

‘The degree of ‘social-commercial-comfort’ you are able to generate’

The barrier to this referral approach is basic human nature. If being a Rainmaker was easy everyone would be one.

When was the last time someone asked you for a strategic introduction?

Probably not so recent? But most of us would try to make an introduction if it was a reasonable request. So why is this so hard? 

It is hard for a number of reasons. It could be ‘awkward for you’ and for your clients. But the biggest challenge is most professionals lack a system to ask consistently. This is mostly because of a lack of skill and emotional competence.

If you had the Rainmaking skill you would probably have more courage.

If you had more courage you would probably ask more often which would continue to embed that Rainmaking skill. But for professionals to be great at asking for referrals and introductions takes a lot of things coming together. You have to have the courage, the skills, and a Rainmaking  approach.

I wonder if I can impose on you…and it’s not an issue if you can’t. I’m trying to get a referral/introduction to [company name] and I seem to recall that you may know that person or know someone who does. It would really mean a lot to me. Let me explain why….

That is a personal variant but when you see it in text is it so dificult to do if it is appropriate to do so?

Here are some possible barriers that stand between you and generating introductions from your social circle.

Rainmakers fact-find first

Before you ask: Do you really know what the connections in your circle actually do?

Do not jump to a conclusion as to the value you are through someone else unless you are clear what this value might be and that is usually positioned by what they do not by what you do.

Understanding what they do is the key to this. It will frame what you think is your right approach. If you are unable to give your value a context it will be hard to engage with your professional ability as opposed to your social ability. You are making it very hard for the referrer to make it happen.

Make sure that you know what they do before you consider making any request for an introduction so that your potential starting point is a clear one. Knowing precisely what they do will help professionalise your request for help.

 I would like to take a moment to explain ‘What I do’.This is because you  may know XYZ  who may value being aware of my skill set/network

Rainmakers never second-guess outcomes

Why ask, they are probably using someone else anyway?

It is a reasonable preconception that most of the people we are all trying to connect to, for whatever reason, are already working with someone already or they have someone similar to your ability within their strategic network.

That box is already ticked.

The solution is to pre-empt this situation when you make the request?

The type of people I connect with typically have multiple advisors. I would expect them to already have an [ABC] as part of their circle of contacts. I took it for granted that [XYZ] was successful so I assume that they will always be taking 2nd opinions when they are appropriate. If I am potentially a poor fit at the present no worries, I just wanted to bring it up.

That is another personal variant.

Rainmakers give before they get

Demonstrate to your circle that you provide value without pushing it

Where appropriate demonstrate that you are worth knowing beyond your skill set. It is possible your circle has some grasp of what you do, whether or not they are an active member of your commercial network. (Also, whether or not they are a client of your services). If positioned appropriately

  • What is stopping you updating your circle with information?
  • (Including non-clients).

If it is relevant you could pass on information that you think is fit for their  purpose. (This is not inviting people to be part of your’news letter’ who possibly have no professional benefit from what you do).

The hand shake

This is moreabout  demonstrating that you are proactive professionally in what you do. Email is great for this:

I thought this article was something you would want to browse through. Compliments XYZ

Rainmaking is about timing too

If you delivering existing work ask for a key introduction before completion 

There is a misconception that you have to wait until a piece of work is completed before you start asking for an introduction or to be referred.

  • That need not be true.

When you and your client are motivated to work together there is initial buy-in. That is why you got the job. As you deliver the job and they get to work with you they are receiving practical evidence that all the things that they thought that you were, when they hired you, are accurate.

Social Commercial Comfort 5next

Why not leverage this?

  • You receive positive feedback halfway through.
  • Thank them for sharing that.

I appreciate your feedback. The bulk of my work comes through introductions to people through people that have worked directly with me. If  you do think of anyone that has [XYZ] as their situation and would benefit from knowing who I am please let me know and I will reach out.

That is another personal variant.

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How to ask your most successful friends and connections for an introduction.
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Johnny ‘Bob’ Spence
Johnny ‘Bob’ Spence
5next co-founder. Trainer, networking coach, writer & author. Educated at L. S. E. & Wits University. ‘$1,000,000 Round Table’ sales qualifier. Author ILM accredited: ‘Executive Programme in Professional & Business Networking’. Rainmaking experience in RSA, UK, France, Finland, Austria, Belgium, Hong Kong, Pakistan, Dubai, Poland, Germany, Slovak Republic & the USA.
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