The Gift We Love to Receive but Forget to Give | LinkedIn

Posted on by Brandon Klein

It’s an introduction. It takes just a few minutes to connect two people who might benefit from knowing each other, and the results sometimes change the world. The Beatles came about after a member of John Lennon’s early band, The Quarrymen, introduced a 15-year-old classmate named Paul McCartney to Lennon. Apple was born after a friend told Steve Wozniak, “you should meet Steve Jobs, because he likes electronics and he also plays pranks,” and introduced them. Studies suggest that in the U.S., 45% of people find their jobs through other people, and 61% of people meet their spouses through introductions—most marriages are the result of the everyday generosity of friends, family members, coworkers, classmates, and neighbors.


As Malcolm Gladwell observed in The Tipping Point, connecting people is a little thing that can make a big difference. In one study, David Obstfeld surveyed automotive engineers on how likely they were to introduce people who shared interests or goals. Then, he tracked product and process innovations at the firm—including an improved air conditioning system and a better system for glass installation. It turned out that the major innovations were driven by engineers who made connections for others. This was true even after accounting for engineers’ technical knowledge, access to inside information, education, and years in the firm, as well as the size of their networks. By connecting people in different areas and departments, engineers set the stage for combining distinct perspectives into novel, useful ideas. We normally think about innovation as the result of what you know and who you know, but it’s also a function of who you introduce.