Here’s a short story with no real happy ending except that all parties involved were not embarrassed. So it’s a happy ending of sorts, I suppose.
I received a group email from E, a networking colleague, looking for an introduction to a certain person D in a named law firm.
LinkedIn is always open on my screen so I searched for D and no one I know was connected to her.
So I tried to see if there was anyone else at the firm who could help E via a third party LinkedIn connection.
I saw that I have a connection M who worked at that firm in the past.
Good! So the knee-jerk reaction would be to put E in touch with M to meet D’s colleague on LinkedIn and hopefully find his way to D.
But not so fast. I knew that M worked at the firm quite a few years ago, reflected in his Experience section on his profile. Just in case, I wanted to check with M that since some time has passed when he last worked there, he was able to honestly make a good indirect intro for E to D.
I sent M a message on LinkedIn and he politely and quickly replied that it was not a good idea, due to the passage of time–many of his colleagues have left or retired.
I replied to E that I was unable to help and offered that he keep asking in the future similarly for connections to other prospects on his radar. He will.
So a little caution made sense.
I wanted to ask M first; that’s just polite and reflects my relationship with him.
Asking with no assumptions too makes sure no one is in the uncomfortable position of having to stammer their way into, or out of, a connection request that doesn’t make sense for everyone involved. I never like telling someone “no I cannot” but if it’s not right, I have to, for everyone’s sake.
Care and finesse are integral to proper networking and nurturing.