I’ve got a longtime client—more important, a mentor and friend—who does the most amazing, thoughtful networking introductions. You can’t help but feel like a rock star, whether she’s introducing you in person or via email. Not surprisingly, she’s also one of those people who seems to know everyone in town, in any industry you can name.
As freelancers, we can’t exist in a vacuum, because success goes beyond raw creative talent. The market needs to view you as a person who’s connected to other people who can help them accomplish their goals—even if you’re not directly involved in a given project. (See also: complementary freelance creatives.) That takes effort and it can’t happen if you only network with people in your own specialty. It’s an investment in your business.
Here are a few examples of recent networking introductions I’ve made to show the approach I take:
Andi, as I mentioned briefly at the (networking meeting), Beth and I have worked together on tons of client projects over the past 15 years. You can check out her graphic design portfolio at (web link). She’s super talented and I can always count on her to hit the mark with new company logos and branding. I think she’d be perfect for the project you were describing.
Beth, as we discussed on our call, Andi is a savvy businessperson and serial entrepreneur whose high-end clientele warrants communications that are up to the task. You can see some examples of the businesses she and her co-owner have worked with at (web link).
So, here’s to hoping two of my longtime colleagues can partner on some projects together!
Chuck, as we talked about yesterday, Devon has been the director of PR at (Company X) since last year, and is doing a bang-up job for the company. (Company X) is the biggest player in the (X) retail biz, operates nearly 1,500 stores in the US and Canada, and just announced (a really huge milestone). She’s one of the hardest-working people I know, as can be seen in the media coverage she’s driven.
Devon, Chuck is the (Publication X) editor that I mentioned the other night. Prior to landing here in Phoenix, he’s been an accomplished reporter globetrotting for (Publication X) in the US, South America, and, most recently, Europe. I gave him the basics of your media campaign, but you can fill him in on the details of other ways (Company X) could be a resource for broader topics in your market. He suggested you give him a call in the evening on his cell, 602-123-4567.
Ed, Frank is the marketing expert I mentioned to you last week who’d like to talk with you further about the possibility of creating a direct-response campaign on your website, helping you secure speaking engagements, etc. He’s got a sterling reputation in the business for helping authors get the word out with his marketing strategies.
Frank, Ed is a longtime client of mine and a nationally known legal expert (specializing in X) who’s worked on a wide range of high-profile cases, such as (example A, B, and C), and is a frequent guest on the major networks for his insights. Despite the often-dark topics he works on, he’s a fun, funny guy.
With that, I’ll leave you both to connect and arrange a call to discuss the potential of working together. If you want me to jump on the call, you know where to find me.
A Few Caveats about Networking Introductions
As with referrals, networking comes with great responsibility. I only connect people I know, like, and have worked with in some professional capacity—random contacts need not apply. In addition to the success of the two people I’m connecting, my reputation is on the line. Because of that…
- I always check with each of the individuals first to see if they’re open to connecting.
- I set expectations about business needs and personality—I don’t want anyone caught by surprise. If either of the parties has quirks (laid back, fast talker, busy schedule, tight deadlines, more talented at a specific type of creative, etc.), I will disclose that discreetly in a phone call, not via email.
- I never discuss another freelancer’s rates or a client’s budget. That’s their responsibility to negotiate, unless they’ve given me explicit instructions to say something in advance.
The always-insightful Peter Shankman has some additional thoughts on this topic that are worth a read: How To Make the Perfect Email Introduction.
In the comments: Those are my ground rules and approach for networking introductions. What are yours?