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05 December 2013

Should I ask for introductions to expand my network?

Reference: Giammatteo, Giacomo. Should You Ask For Introductions on Linked in? 2 December 2013.

The author of the referenced article correctly state the rules, and his reasoning is solid. I recommend reading the article. It will help you understand the most common view about asking for favors when networking.

If you have 15 gazillion connections like he does, and you receive dozens of requests each day, you have to be selective. That is not selfishness; it is survival. 
I have a little over 300 connections, and I have received one request for introduction in the last four years. If I imposed the same rules, it would be terribly selfish.
Providing an introduction is a small favor to do. I look at the profiles, decide whether the fit is appropriate, and then (if appropriate) provide the introduction. I might even give the requester some unsolicited advice about networking etiquette.  The author does not distinguish between asking for introductions and asking for recommendations. I think that one can make an introduction without recommending the requester.
In the introduction, I will state to what degree I know the requester. If I do not know him, I will say so; but I will leave the receiver of the request with the freedom to look at the requester's profile and make his own decision.

Others' non-responsiveness has taught me not to ask for favors until I have developed our relationship. When I started building my LinkedIn network, I requested several introductions. I never heard back, not even a "no."

That means you have to impress your connection enough that he offers help; or you have to do him enough favors that he owes you a favor in return.

That seems manipulative. It is quite frustrating when you are just beginning to network and your need is now and desperate.

But those are "the rules."

I abide by them, but I do not impose them.

My advice to those who wish to ask for introductions follows: 
  • If they have a few dozen connections, they might be unsociable. Don't expect results. On the other hand, they might not know "the rules" yet, so it might work. Give it a try.
  • If they have a few hundred connections, wait to ask for favors until you've established a relationship (not just a connection) or done them some favors.
  • If they have thousands of connections, make sure you've established a relationship AND done them some favors.
A good network takes years to assemble. Start building yours now. Make it a hobby. Do not wait until you need it.

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