I am sure all of you know what a finder’s fee is or the concept of introduction fees.
They say life is karmic, and in the case of the business of introductions, I’ve seen life come full circle. I’ve received it and have paid it. I should have received it many more times.
In fact, the reason I’m writing this piece is because in the middle of last year, I was introduced by a business acquaintance to an individual who, then, became a business partner and collaborator. I wanted to thank this friend for introducing us, and sent her a nice email and box of chocolates. However, this friend of mine had lived in Singapore too long. She was more like an expatriate in her behaviour and dealings. I mean, being business-like, punctual, direct and commercial. She believed in my quip, which I sometimes jokingly articulated as ‘Americans say thank you with their cheque books and sorry with their cheque book.’
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She said she was expecting a fee for introduction. I said to her I could be a billionaire if I charged introduction fees, too. Eventually, I did work with this new friend she had introduced and collaborated on a successful initiative. We paid her the introduction fees, and it was a happy party thereafter.
This set me thinking: is this the right model? Until now, I’d thought introduction fees were lesser gain than goodwill. I’d felt introduction capital led to goodwill capital. I’d held a belief that it’s the moral karma of every successful entrepreneur to introduce budding entrepreneurs to relevant and useful people in the ecosystem. I had always believed, and still believe, blessings were bigger than moolah.
I had built a reputation of introducing big people to even bigger people, not so big people to big people and, more importantly, connecting people to people. I did it because I believed God sent me to the world to do this; this was my genuine calling. I never expected much besides an acknowledgement. I introduced prospective employees to prospective employers, budding founders to co-founders, investee companies to investors, companies and entrepreneurs to clients, budding authors to publishers, promoters to board members, technology-led initiatives to business-driven enterprises. I drew my satisfaction in a genuine thank you, and in the knowledge of a job well done. I became so good at it, big industrialists started consulting me on matrimonial alliances, and, like an enthusiastic match maker I even dabbled in it.
A certain friend who’s also the most affable CEO in the media industry even started calling me nawab of the network.
He called it “networking,” and I saw it as humans connecting, a gentle expression of my uniqueness of curating relationships. Curation is an activity that gives joy to the curator, but the joy comes from seeing his curation enjoyed by everyone.
Whenever I’ve interviewed young people, I ask them what they like doing. They say we love meeting people.
Before your mind starts thinking more, let me share what some heat thinkers believe about what I’m saying.
Robert Kiyosaki says, “The richest people in the world look for and build networks, everyone else looks for.” Or, “The currency of real networking is not greed but generosity,” as said by Keith Ferrazzi. Bob Burg on many occasions has said,
“The successful networkers I know, the ones receiving tons of referrals and feeling truly happy about themselves, continually put the other person’s needs ahead of their own.”
“Position yourself as a center of influence, the one who knows the movers and shakers. People will respond to that, and you’ll soon become what you project.”
“I like to define networking as cultivating mutually beneficial, give-and-take, win-win relationships… The end result may be to develop a large and diverse group of people who will gladly and continually refer a lot of business to us, while we do the same for them.”
Now, I certainly can see what I was doing without knowing what I was doing. In my own words, I was creating introduction capital. In old times, it was the Rolodex. Today, the Rolodex has gone from collaboration for genuine selfless good to introduction capital.
I’ve, however, recently noticed a trend amongst very ambitious young people who’re in a hurry. Once you introduce them to someone valuable, they collaborate with that person, but don't inform the initiator and are uncouth about it. Are they saving their thank you, chocolate boxes, finder’s fees or introduction fees? They’re sometimes cocky enough to give bad currency to introduction capital.
So here are my five rules on how to thrive on introduction capital:
Happy to introduce you to a mentor. Think of this magazine as a mentor.