The key to effective networking is making every minute count. This article is about how I didn’t, why it happened, and the lessons I’ve learned as a result.
Welcome back, or if you’re new here you can sign up using our orange RSS button to the top right of this page. You will receive highly relevant business networking tips, new articles, as well as information about events and promotions which will help to increase increase the number of profitable introductions you, or your network, make.
Drink coffee productively
Like you, I receive invitations to have coffee, chat, or connect, every week. Coffee is sometimes code for “pick your brains”. Just ask @BernieJMitchell. A lot of those we helped recently have had endless coffees, yet nowt to show for it. Sometimes a chat goes nowhere, and connections are people. Some call them numbers because they are connections, but I just call them people.
To introduce, or to affiliate?… that is the question
Recently I’ve been surprised by seemingly intelligent brands mixing the word “introducer” with “affiliate”. A company backed by serious investors recently asked me to become an “affiliate”, I was flattered. So I asked about the benefits my contacts and I would receive. They were compelling. During the “next step” in their process it became clear that they were actually seeking “introducers”. I explained that I seemed to be there under false pretences. I was polite, as my brand is important to me. Their brand is no longer trustworthy in my eyes, despite their attempts to explain the situation. It appears they were confused about the definition of an “affiliate”. Below is the dictionary definition for an “affiliate”, so that you can ask those requesting your assistance which of the two they are seeking:
1. To adopt or accept as a member, subordinate associate, or branch
2. To associate (oneself) as a subordinate, subsidiary, employee, or member
3. To assign the origin of
4. To become closely connected or associated
Contractually obliged to affiliate or introduce?
Another gent recently requested a chat to explore helping each other. It seemed we had similar clientèle, so I asked what kind of process they followed when looking for people to help their clients. The reply came “a meeting to chat about the work you and I do”… with a view to making introductions that benefit all parties. Sounded great.
Towards the end of the meeting the gent produced an “Introducers Agreement”. It was 3 ages long, and the first 2 pages had terms that I found unacceptable. I learned a lesson that day.
FYI – an introducer is defined as follows:
1.a. To present (someone) by name to another in order to establish an acquaintance
1.b. To present (a performer, for example) to the public for the first time
2. To bring forward (a plan, for example) for consideration
3. To provide (someone) with a beginning knowledge or first experience of something: introduced me to weightlifting
4.a. To bring in and establish in a new place or environment: exotic plants that had been introduced from the jungle
4.b. To bring into currency, use, or practice; originate
When introductions are promised ask if there is any agreement to sign. You can save yourself the price of a coffee and the time spent at a meeting, if you are aware of onerous terms. Not everyone reveals their process at the beginning, even though we all have a process. No matter how loose it is, it is still a process. He could have told me, I should have asked… I will from now on.
Wrap Up: A meeting without an agenda is a chat. I now know to ask if introducers, or those seeking introductions, need a contractual agreement. It makes me wonder if there is anything else I should be seeking to clarify?
Top Tip: Not every introducers agreement is onerous. I have seen some fantastic, clear, concise documents that make all parties accountable, and comfortable. Read the agreement, and don’t be afraid of asking for clarification.
Who to Share this with: Fellow networkers, anyone who acts as an introducer or an affiliate, and those who work with introducers or affiliates.