In the first post in the Getting in the Door Series, I shared how “patient persistence” can help you re-open closed doors when a contact stops responding. While patience is an under-valued skill in business development (often in favor of a misguided form of impatience called “hustling”), sometimes time is of the essence.
Relationships take time to build, but there are ways to speed up the process. How?
By demonstrating that you are already a member of their trusted social circle, and getting a secondary introduction.
If you’ve spent any time in sales or business development, then you’ve probably already seen how getting a warm introduction – that is, being introduced to a someone that you don’t know by someone who already has an established relationship with that person – can have a tremendous advantage over going in cold. A warm intro provides you with a measure of credibility that engenders a response more than a cold outreach, but you’re still at the mercy of the person’s calendar and the strength of their referral. And so it happens: even the warmest of introductions can go cold. What do you do when a warm contact stops responding?
Get another warm introduction – a secondary introduction.
Introducing the Secondary Introduction
Getting a second introduction not only allows someone else to bring you back to the top of your target’s inbox, but it also sends another signal of credibility to that person. You are no longer a potentially random friend-of-a-friend — when you’ve had multiple people reach out on your behalf, you’re now someone with multiple spokes into their social hub. You signal that you may just have some value after all.
I know this works because it worked on me. I was once introduced to someone – let’s call her Tara – who wanted to meet me for coffee, but we never solidified a date on the calendar. In time I became a bit distracted, and I didn’t continue to follow-up. A few weeks later, another friend of mine reached out to make an intro to Tara. My entire perspective changed — I was intrigued about who Tara was, guilty about not responding earlier, and excited about the prospect of meeting someone that I hadn’t met but now presumed I should have. I immediately responded, we scheduled lunch, and have since connected several more times.
The Psychology of the Secondary Introductions
Why did Tara’s secondary introduction work on me? Why might it work for you?
Because of something social psychologists call ingroup-outgroup bias. An ingroup refers to a set of people who share a social identity, linked by factors as wide-ranging as ethnic background to sports team affiliations. Evolutionary and social psychologists have performed a number of studies that demonstrate a broad range of effects that come from our desire to associate with like-minded groups. One of those effects is called ingroup favoritism, which suggests we’re more inclined to respond favorably to people that we perceive to be in our social circle (and relatedly, outgroup negativity suggests that you’ll be more guarded against people whom you do not believe you share traits with).
A secondary introduction helps establish you as part of their group, not an outsider. That’s one of the reasons why warm introductions are so powerful in the first place. An initial introduction engenders a sense of familiarity, which helps give someone the comfort to open up their door to you. The secondary introduction takes that connection one step further, and acts as a “Welcome” mat placed at the doorstep just for you.
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Has a secondary introduction worked for you (or on you)? Got a tip for Getting in the Door? Leave a comment and let us know!