Wednesday, November 05, 2014

The Art of the Introduction

One of the very best leadership skills you can cultivate is the art of writing an introduction. Most leaders miss this because they don't realize the value of their network. Instead, you should understand that there are people in your circle of friends that would love to know one another and could do some amazing things together. You are the one that understands the potential of them working together and that is best unleashed by writing a stunning introduction.

There are some people in your network that you would die for. They have mentored you. You have mentored them. You have the highest regard for their character and competency. You have worked on projects with them and you look up to their caliber of work. You would love to see them succeed at the highest levels. These introductions are reserved for them exclusively, not for the person you just met at Panera the other night. And introductions like these are not done on social media. A tweet tagging both them and saying, "You two should know each other…." Please no.

My introductions are organized as follows: a greeting, three paragraphs and then a 'thanks for connecting' sentence or two. It's done over email and I always try to follow up with a quick thank you after I know people have connected. Over the past few years, I've probably averaged writing an introduction once every one or two months. The intro to the email is a quick 'Hi there, you both should know each other, hope you are doing well', normal greeting stuff.

The second and third paragraphs is the substance and it's where I outline how I know both people. I write about where and when and how we met. I tell each other what kind of projects we have worked on together. I talk a little bit about each person's family. I describe their passions, talents and skills. Simply, I try to gush about this person. If you can't highlight them, this intro is not appropriate.

The final paragraph outlines why they should be connected and it's usually due to some recent circumstance in one of the people's lives - they started working on this project, they recently moved to this location, I was reminded about each of them and how they should know each other. Finally, I close the email, thanking them for connecting in the future.

Like a good letter from an old friend, introductions can be an art form. And in today's hyper connected world, where everyone knows everyone else because of the interwebs, an intentional, beautifully written introduction stands apart. There are some people in your circles that would impact humanity exponentially, if only they were connected. One of the best tools you have at your disposal as a leader is introducing them to each other.

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