As we enter the heart of the holiday season, Wharton School business professor and author Adam Grant reminds us of the enduring value of the gift of an introduction.
"There's one form of giving that involves few costs, while offering dramatic benefits to the people around us," Grants writes in a blog post titled, "The Gift We Love to Receive, But Forget to Give."
An introduction, Grant says, "takes just a few minutes to connect two people who might benefit from knowing each other, and the result sometimes can change the world."
Examples he cites include the band member who introduced John Lennon to 15-year-old Paul McCartney and the friend who suggested Steve Wozniak meet Steve Jobs because of their common interest in electronics and pranks.
Grant notes that 45 percent of Americans land jobs through referrals from other people and 61 percent meet their spouses through introductions,
He calls these connections the "everyday generosity of friends, family members, coworkers, classmates and neighbors." "Part of the beauty of introductions," Grant says, "is that anyone can make them."
Some people worry that an introduction can go bad if the ensuing relationship sours. They fear their reputation could be marred as a result.
However, the bigger problem with introductions, Grant suggests, is that people just forget to make them.
In his blog, Grant promotes a new startup called Intros, which will launch this week with an experiment. On Tuesday, December 3, participants will be asked to make one helpful, proactive introduction, with instructions to the recipients of the introduction to pay it forward by making their own helpful introduction the following day.
"If the pay-it-forward chain is strong," Grant says, "after two weeks your one intro could create more than 16,000 connections.
"During the holiday season," Grant urges, "I can't think of a better way to express gratitude to the amazing people in our lives than to connect them to each other."