Art of the Introduction

How to introduce two people so that
they both benefit

 

Intros are
a science.  Making introductions the
right way will massively increase utility between two people.  And doing it the wrong way can make one of
the parties look bad or alienate one or both parties from you.

 

The
following few paragraphs will take you through the best way to make an email
introduction between two people.  Before
we go through the mechanics, let’s first define the objectives.  As the introducer, your objective should be that
you benefit both people you are introducing. 
If it can only benefit one of the parties, you should not even
bother.   At the end of the meeting, both
parties should be happy you made the introduction, glad they met the other
person, and thankful to you.

 

First, before
you start, take your time.  Good
introductions take time.  If done
hastily, their impact will be minimal.  
Take the time to really think why both parties will benefit from each
other and spell it out in an email.  I’m
sure we’ve all been victims of hastily written email intros (I recently got one
that said “Auren/John – you two just HAVE to meet each other.   You two take it from here.”)

 

A good way
to go about it is to first email the more well-known person and ask for permission.   Make the case of why they should meet the
other dude and ask them if it would be ok for you to introduce the two of you.  Usually it will work well but occasionally
someone will say that they are too busy. 
If that’s the case, you just saved both friends a lot of trouble.  You never want to make an introduction where
both parties don’t immediately respond to each other … that will make you
look really bad.   When you email people,
you want to make sure that the weight of your email encourages both people to
quickly arrange a time to talk.  

 

Take the time of each person into
account
.   Suggest whether they should meet for lunch,
coffee, over the phone, or just exchange emails.  Often people should just have a quick phone
call and you don’t want to waste the time of one or both people by suggesting a
lunch.    Be clear in your email
introduction what the next action should be.

 

Rarely
introduce your friend to someone just because your friend wants to meet her.  There needs to be an exchange of value
between the two people … they both need to come away with getting more value
than their time is worth.  Proactively
suggest who they might want to meet.  

 

Clearly give the location of each person.  If one person is in LA and the other is in NY,
let them know.  Maybe they are going to
be in the same city in two weeks and they can meet in person.  Or maybe they are going to arrange a call and
they will now know what time zone they are in.  

 

Be sure to
give their first and last name and a
quick bio of the person.  I often get
intros from people to jim@company.com – so
I know the first name of the person is “Jim” but don’t know their last name and
it makes it difficult to save the person’s contact information.  And a quick bio will go a long way in giving
context.

 

If you know two people have met
before, even briefly, mention it in the intro
.  Often
people forget brief meetings and you don’t want to embarrass one of them.   

 

Only forward emails that make the originator
look good
.  And, of you have to, edit
the email before forwarding.  I can’t
tell you how many times I’ve been introduced to someone by an introducer who
forwards me a semi-confidential email chain that I probably shouldn’t see.  

 

 

If you are
introducing single people of different genders, make sure there is no misunderstanding the intentions of the
introduction
.  If it is a business
introduction, make sure you are clear about it. 
You don’t want to create an embarrassing situation were people have
misalign intentions.  

 

If the
people use their assistants, then copy the assistants of both parties if
appropriate. 

 

 

And
overall, your goal should be that both parties leave the meeting with each
other happy that you made the intro.  
They need to BOTH get value
from the meeting or you have failed.  But
when you succeed, you have the potential to massively increase the happiness of
both people.   An intro can be the best
way to help people. 

2 thoughts on “Art of the Introduction

  1. Scott Isaacs

    Good tips, Auren. Thanks.
    On a related note, do you have any tips for introducing a speaker to an audience? That’s something I find myself doing regularly, and I know I could do better. I don’t want to just read the bio because the audience can do that on their own. On the other hand, I usually do not personally know the speaker well enough to “get creative”.

    Reply

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