The art of conversation is as old as time. The back and forth sharing of ideas, one person building upon the input of the conversation partner(s) and clarification by questions. In turn,  this makes each party richer from the experience.

The scene: a somewhat quiet corner of a holiday party, I see a colleague standing and eating and I motion to him to sit with me a vacant table. And along comes another colleague, unknown to the other, like us with a plate of food. I ask him to join us, introduce the two and facilitate the conversation among us three.

Pretty typical scene, right? It took my initiative, and we start to accomplish a routine that became something unique: introduction, kickoff, then sharing viewpoints and experiences and thus, we open our horizons.

But it takes work. I have to weave in comments to keep the other two conversing and getting to know each other. I have to use my wits and experience to make the two share some common thread so they become acquainted and comfortable. I have to know when to step back and let the two converse and I listen. Yes, listen, because as I learned a long time ago, leading is more following and righting the course only when required, than anything else.

So it is with LinkedIn (you were waiting for that segue, right?)

Make introductions warmly and with context so the other(s) know what this is important to THEM, not you. Add reference points as to how they can work together along common threads of interest or within their fields of work, and let them go from there. You have offered both the most kind of gifts, your opinion that they need to connect on some way, but you can’t make it happen unless they recognize the need and have the inclination. Start them out. Let them complete the cycle. I always end my e-intros with “please let me hear great things from this connection.”

Similar handling for connection requests (see my earlier blog post this week)

I leave you with this point: use the social media tool of LinkedIn for introduction with conversation, but use it well. Just as in real life. Add value to your connections and ensure they realize the power and favor of an introduction via LinkedIn.

But make it a conversation, using real words as you express yourself. Invest time and thought, do not allow the default language to take precedent. Because we don’t need more impersonalization, we need value and thoughtfulness. That’s how you complement others in an introduction, either at a table or at a keyboard.