MAKING A CONNECTION – The Art of the Warm Introduction

In sales, one of the best ways to bypass the gatekeeper and reach the decision-maker is through a warm introduction. Having a mutual connection who can introduce you to the decision maker drastically improves your ability to pitch your idea and the chances of closing a deal or at worst getting a respectful no. I speak from my experiences as a B2B SaaS founder in the sports industry, but this strategy applies to most sales positions and industries selling B2B. 

In this column, I dig into three key parts to being able to make a Warm Introduction to a potential client.

  • How to find the correct decision-maker within an organization.
  • How to discover mutual connections with that decision-maker.
  • How to ask for a Warm Introduction.

If done properly, warm introductions can save you drastic amounts of time and energy while boosting your sales numbers in the process.

Before we can ask for a warm introduction, we first need to identify who the decision maker is at a particular company. Decision makers vary from company to company so I would first refer to passed closed deals to see what titles were involved in the sales process. From there you’ll have a better idea of who needs to be included in your pitch and be part of your closing. Once I know who I’m looking to reach, the next step I take is to look them up online. Start with the company website, often they are listed under the “About” or “Our Team” tab. I like to start here because they are often listed in the order of hierarchy within the organization. Sometimes you might not have a mutual contact with the decision maker themselves, but you might have one with their right-hand person or even their superior which can be just as good.

Next, I go to LinkedIn where I can send them a connection request, learn more about their experience, and discover mutual connections that we have in common. You may find you only have a handful of mutual connections while at other times (If you’re active on LinkedIn) you may have hundreds. In the latter case, you can use the filter tools to narrow down mutual connections by previous employers, location, their alma mater, etc.

Now that we’ve identified mutual connections with the decision maker, it’s time to find one that you have a strong relationship with. Just because I have 10,000+ connections on LinkedIn, doesn’t mean I know all those people personally or that they would be willing to connect me with someone, let alone a close contact of theirs. So, this is where you must put in the work to build your brand, build relationships, and grow your credibility within the industry. This can take years but the more relationships you build and the stronger your brand is, the more successful you’ll be in asking and receiving warm introductions. One thing I always keep in mind is to “Give before you receive.”  I also pride myself on is being a connector and helping others connect with decisions makers. If I can be the one to connect two credible people where I think there is business synergy, not only does that reflect well on me but also increases the chances that in the future they may return the favor. I’m not saying I keep score and expect anything in return, I just believe this to be a good business practice and one that has paid dividends for me to date, and I am confident it will for you also.

So now that you’ve identified the decision maker and found a mutual contact within your network, it’s now time to ask them to make a warm introduction. It’s important to ask them first if they know the contact well enough to make an introduction, don’t just assume they do because they are connected on LinkedIn or have overlapped at a previous employer. Depending on your relationship, it might make more sense to hop on a call and catch up a little bit before hitting them with the ask. Other times, a simple to the point email can suffice. Either way, you want to come off appreciative and grateful for their consideration and I also like to offer my help in return, something along the lines of “Let me know if I can help with any contacts from my network”. If they agree, be sure to give them a little context about the situation and I also like to send over a short couple of lines about our company that can aid them in crafting the introductory email.

Once the introduction has been made, it’s important to thank and acknowledge the mutual contact in your reply for making the intro before addressing the decision maker and then adding them to BCC. It’s also important to follow up with the mutual contact after you’ve met with the decision maker to give them a quick update so that they’re not left wondering how it went. If you follow up and tell them the call went great and that you again really appreciate the introduction, they are going to be more likely to make more introductions in the future.

Here are some key points to remember when executing this strategy.

  • Six degrees of separation is the theory that suggests that everyone in the world is connected through six or fewer social connections.
  • Your network is your net worth.
  • Give before you receive.
  • If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

Follow these steps and I promise you’ll be more successful in earning warm introductions and closing more deals.

by Kris McCarthy