Orgs & Individuals Should Spend ~1 Hour/Month Making More Introductions
Note: This is a post I’ve talked about writing for >6 months, so I’m giving myself 30 minutes to write and publish it. For context, I’m the full-time director of EA NYC, an organization dedicated to building and supporting the effective altruism community in and around New York City.
Claim: More organizations and individuals should allot a small amount of time to a particularly high-value activity: 1-1 or 1-org introductions.
Outside the scope of this post: I’m not going to make the case here for the value of connections. Many in the community already believe they are extremely valuable, e.g. they’re the primary metric CEA uses for its events.
Context: I frequently meet people who are deeply engaged in EA, have ended up at an EAG(x), work for an EA or EA-adjacent organization, or are otherwise exciting and active community members, but have no idea there are existing EA groups located in their city or university, focused on their profession, or coordinating across their cause area. When they do learn about these groups, they are often thrilled and eager to plug in. Many times, they’ve been engaging heavily with other community members who did know, and perhaps even once mentioned such in passing, but didn’t think to make a direct introduction. For many, a direct introduction dramatically increases the likelihood of their actually engaging with another individual or organization. As a result, opportunities for valuable connections and community growth are missed.
Introductions can be burdensome, but they don’t have to be.
80,000 Hours’ staff frequently directly connects me to individuals over email who are based in or near NYC, whether or not they’ve already advised them. In 2022, they sent over 30 emails that followed a format like this:
Subject: Rocky <> [Name]
Rocky, meet [Name]. [Name]* works in [Professional Field] and lives in [Location]. They’re interested in [Career Change, Learning about ___ EA Topic, Connecting with Local EAs, Something Else]. Because of this, I thought it might be useful for [Name] to speak to you and others in the EA NYC community.
[Name], meet Rocky. Rocky* is Director of Effective Altruism NYC. Before that she did [Career Summary] and studied [My Degree]. Effective Altruism NYC works on helping connect and grow the community of New Yorkers who are looking to do the most good through: advising, socials, reading groups, and other activities. I thought she would be a good person for you to speak with about some next steps to get more involved with Effective Altruism.
Hope you get to speak soon. Thanks!
[80K Staff Member]
*They typically link to our respective LinkedIn profiles.
I then set up one-on-one calls with the individuals they connect me to and many subsequently become involved in EA NYC in various capacities.
EA Virtual Programs
EA Virtual Programs does something similar:
Subject: [EA NYC] Your group has a new prospective member
We are the EA Virtual Programs (EA VP) team. A recent EA Virtual Programs participant has expressed an interest in joining your Effective Altruism New York City group.
Background Info: [Involvement in EA] [Profession] [Location] [LinkedIn]
Note these connections come from the participants themselves, as they nominated they would like to get in touch with your group specifically in our exit survey.
It would be wonderful for them to get a warm welcome to your group. Please do reach out to them in 1-2 weeks preferably. However, no worries if this is not a priority for you now.
I hope these connections are valuable!
EA Virtual Programs
In both cases, the connector receives permission from both parties, something easily included in inbound and exit questionnaires or confirmed through a quick email exchange.
I would like to see more individuals and organizations dedicate even a nominal amount of time specifically to making such introductions. This could be a fun monthly virtual coworking activity or a way to spend an hour during a quiet workweek. It can be personally rewarding and play a significant role in helping the growth and collaboration of the community as a whole.