The Hospital Pass and Three Other Intro Types
Being a two-time entrepreneur with a successful exit, and now CEO of a modern sales platform startup Nudge, I get asked for a lot of introductions. Here are three modernized versions of how to do it well, and one way you should never do it.
- Intro-ee: the person asking for the introduction
- Target: the person you are being asked to introduce
- Intro-er: the person doing the introduction
The Standard: Double Opt-in
This is the most common situation. You are asked for an intro to someone you know. If you are going to give an intro, you have to ask the target for permission and at least tell them these two things.
- Who (intro-ee) you want to introduce
- Why they want to be introduced
By getting permission you make a good use of the target’s time, and the intro-ee’s time as well, and don’t burn any precious “relationship capital” you may have. Be prepared for the target to say no sometimes. But it allows you to gain trust for future asks by showing you respect their time.
The Standard Plus: Vet Before You Let
A step up from the Standard is the Standard Plus. In this case you don’t take the intro-ee’s reason for asking for an intro at face value. You want to do a little more digging and vet the quality of this ask because:
- You think the intro isn’t going to be a good match
- The target is very hard to get time with and you want to make sure you are using your relationship capital appropriately
In this case you should ask for more detail and context from the intro-ee, or even setup a short 5 min. call.
This is an intro that you take upon yourself to do. It occurs when you have uncovered a perfect match. Usually it is something very specific to both individuals. For example I recently introduced two VCs who I knew well AND they were both extreme mountain climbers, and had each climbed 6 of the 7 tallest mountains in the world.
In this case you need to ask both for the opt-in before proceeding, but if you have chosen your “match” right, it’s usually a no brainer.
The Hospital Pass (also called The Blindside)
I played rugby in my early years, and as a wing, I sometimes got what we called a hospital pass. This is where your team mate (to avoid getting hit), throws up a high lob pass too early, so there is enough time for the opposing team to line you up and crush you as soon as you catch the ball, potentially putting you in the hospital. That is what I call the situation when I get introduced to someone without being asked. By doing this it:
- Looks bad on you, because you have assumed that the target wants to be introduced, when maybe they don’t have the time or interest
- Often results in a waste of both people’s time, as the target sometimes feel obligated enough to do a call, but never really commits time to be helpful
I think helping people in your network with introductions is always a good thing. But you want to make sure you follow the right steps so that both parties can benefit.