Networking starts with introductions and introductions come in a number of forms. I have separated them into five categories:
- Cold calls
- Cold introductions
- Warm introductions
- Personal introductions
Cold calls are attempts to contact people who you don’t know and have little or no information about. They can hardly be called introductions. Calling names that you received from telephone directories or similar listings are cold calls. They are usually attempts to contact targets who you don’t know without any introduction or referral. Most of those irritating, impersonal phone solicitations we all receive are cold calls.
Leads, as used in this book, are names that usually fit a common profile, such as men between ages 25 and 35; self-employed carpenters or mothers with more than three children. Those who give you leads may not know the people included on lead sheets or list. Frequently, the names on lead sheets are compiled by list services and similar sources. For the purposes of this book, leads are simply names without any other type of referral. When you contact a lead, it’s little more than a cold call.
Cold introductions are more personal leads. For example, when your friend Bill tells you to, “Call my cousin Sally, she may be looking for someone like you.” Get permission from Bill to mention to cousin Sally that he/she suggested you call or else your call will have the same meager impact of a cold call from a stranger. Without Bill’s permission, your call is little more than a lead.
Warm introductions occur when Bill phones cousin Sally and tells her that you will be calling. If Bill praises you, his introduction will be even warmer. Warm introductions usually give you a better more enthusiastic reception and it may spur Sally to jump the gun and call you. Warm introductions give you immediate credibility and cousin Sally is likely to accept what Bill recommends. So when a contact gives you a lead or a cold introduction, ask if he/she could call first to turn it into a warm introduction.
Personal introductions occur when Bill personally introduces you to cousin Sally. He may arrange for the three of you to lunch together, bring you to Sally’s oﬃce or introduce you at an event. Warm introductions carry the message that “this is someone good, someone you should know or use.” Therefore, they are the most desirable introductions and what you should try to obtain.