NETWORKING: The Intro vs The Vouch (and why the difference matters a whole lot)

My tweets autodelete after 30 days, so when one starts a good discussion, I try to expand/archive it here. 

NETWORKING: The Intro vs The Vouch

So the “intro w/o vouch” is a double-opt in that looks something like “hey, I know you were looking to hire a BizDev lead. This guy is someone I worked with a few years back. Seemed pretty good but we’re not that close, so take a look and if you want intro, just let me know.”

The vouch version of this is more like “I strongly recommend you take a look at this gal for your BD role. Even though she might be on the junior end with regards to years of experience, she’s amazing. Worked for a friend of mine and was the star of their team – in fact, was the one behind the XYZ deal.”

Why Makes Intros At All If They’re Not Vouches?

Because they can still be mutually valuable in many contexts. I just try to tell the person looking for the intro the extent to which I can (or cannot) vouch and let the recipient know if I’m vouching or not (because I expect my vouches to be taken seriously as high signal). 

Are There Types of Intros You’ll Only Do As a Vouch?

Yes, one which comes to mind is the Investor introduction. I won’t make casual intros to investors unless I can speak to the quality of the company I’m intro’ing. I’ll also make a case-by-case judgment based on how valuable I think the intro might be to both sides and the nature of my relationship with each individual. 

I’m Asking For An Intro, How Do I Know If They’ll Vouch For Me?

You can frame it as such: “Hey, I’m looking to get introduced into XYZ because I heard her talk about how their marketing team is hiring an agency to do influencer work with them. I see you two are connected on LinkedIn. Do you know her well enough to make an intro if I forward you a note to pass on? And do you feel like you’ve got enough recent context on my work to endorse us? Thanks, much appreciated.”

Is a Vouch the Same as a Favor?

No, these are different things. For me a Favor is when I need someone to take an intro even though it might not be worth their time or ROI but it would be really meaningful to the other side of the intro. When I’m asking for a favor I’m very specific about it. I’ll also often stress when I’m *not* asking for a favor just so someone doesn’t take action on an intro request simply to please me. 

You Know, Vouching Sounds Like “Sponsorship”

Yes, I was excited to get introduced to this concept via a tweet from Lara Hogan where she links to a 2017 blog post called “What does sponsorship look like?” It’s a very good read and makes the point that most of us don’t get past mentorship when trying to support marginalized or underrepresented groups. I recommend you read it.

Vouch Or No Vouch, Should I Ever Make An Intro Without a Double Opt-In?

Fine, I Get It. Are There Any Good Blog Posts On What a Good Intro Looks Like?

Yes! Here’s one. And here’s another