Some thoughts on how to bridge the (awkward) gap.
“What do I do when someone in my network DOES make an introduction?”
Someone asked this recently. She was in a bit of a panic, wondering how to behave, what to say, and of course, whether she’d actually get to interview for the job she wants so badly.
A couple of suggestions:
If it’s an email introduction
You have a friend in the biz who graciously sends a joint introductory email to you and the person you’re trying to connect with (if they’re a really good friend and they know the person well, they also circle back a week or so later to make sure the connection was actually consummated).
The email you send to both people (your friend and the new contact) could read something like this:
Hi, X, thanks so much for the introduction!
It’s nice to v-meet you! I’ve gotten great intel on <your company> from several sources. It seems like an amazing place to be right now. When X mentioned he knows you, I asked for an introduction.
What works best? A call or a quick coffee near your office? It’d be great to have an opportunity to visit with you.
Keep it short & simple, warm but dignified (you’re not desperate). You can mention the job you’ve spotted (if there is one), but don’t make it the sole focus of your email. Focus first on making the connection.
Please don’t be that person who says they’re “the perfect fit for the job.” Don’t regurgitate your resume. Focus on the company more than the opportunity ~ who knows, maybe they’ve already gotten to final interviews on this job but there’s another one in the wings.
If it’s in person:
I learned early on at Robert Half that I could invite someone I knew to invite someone THEY knew for a joint coffee or lunch. Having that middle person who knows both parties takes a lot of the awkwardness away. Ask your connection if they’d do that for you.
If you end up meeting your new connection on your own, do a little research ahead of time so you can come up with a topic or two. Hello, LinkedIn. Maybe you’re both interested volunteer work, or you attended the same university.
Another idea: you can cold-call someone in the company (maybe someone in a role similar to the one you’re currently doing) and invite them to lunch. Coffee works too.
Be candid about the reason for your gesture. Say something like “I’d really like to learn more about your company, because it seems like you guys are solving some interesting problems” / “I’d like to be part of an innovative company” / “I like your company’s community involvement. I’m interested in being a part of a company like that.”
I think it’s important to identify with the WHY first (ie. why this company?). The job you spotted (if there is one) comes second.
Let the person get to know you a bit rather than lunging at the job. If they become an advocate, you’ve made progress toward ALL potential jobs. If you get so focused on this one position, you miss the opportunity to bond a bit. Take your time. Slow down a little.
Ask good questions: “What made you decide to join?” “What’s your biggest challenge been?” “What suggestions do you have for me?” “Do you have influence over this position?” “Is there anyone else you think I should chat with?”
Focus on the person you’re meeting. Be curious about the company. You’re doing research, not zeroing in for the kill. Be helpful if you can.
Do this in a genuine way and follow through with a genuine thank you afterwards. With practice, it’ll soon feel more natural. I promise.
I help mid-careerists better-tell their professional story.
Leverage my recruiting & writing experience (it’s like having the IRS prepare your taxes).
Here’s a link to schedule a 15-minute, no-obligation intro call.