Art of the Email Introduction

How to introduce two people so that they both benefit

Email introductions are a poorly-understood art and are often done too hastily without careful thought.  Making introductions the right way can be the best way to help two people and create a lot of value.  But doing it wrong can make one of the parties look bad and can alienate one or both parties from you.

Below are my tips on the best ways to make an email introduction between two people.

Before we go through the mechanics, let’s first define your objectives as the introducer. Your goal should be to benefit both people you are introducing. Both parties should be happy you made the introduction, glad they met the other person, and thankful to you. You should not bother making an introduction if it will only benefit one of the parties. 

Now for the tips on the proper way to make introductions:

1. Take the time
Good introductions require careful thought and preparation. Take the time to really think why both parties will benefit from each other and spell it out in an email.  Hasty introductions can have minimal or even negative impact.  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." – I’d like to know who John is and why we should meet.

2. Ask for permission
A good way to start the introduction process is to first email the people and ask them for permission.  Make the case of why they should meet the other party and ask them if it would be ok for you to introduce the two.  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.

3. Make sure there is a quick follow up
You never want to make an introduction where both parties don’t immediately respond to each other.  To prevent this from happening, make sure that the weight of your email encourages both people to quickly arrange a time to talk. 

Images 4. Take the time of each person into account

Be clear in your email introduction what the next action for the two parties should be. 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.   

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 and both parties need to come away with more value than their time is worth. To find a worthwhile introduction,  you may need to proactively suggest people who your friends might want to meet. 

5. Clearly give the location of each person
Location is one detail that is forgotten all too often but can save a lot of back and forth communication. If one person is in LA and the other is in NY, let them know.  If they are going to be the same city in two weeks, they can now meet in person. If they are going to arrange a call, they will now know what time zone they are in. 


Images 6. 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.

7. Mention if two people have met before
If you know the two parties have met before, even if only briefly, be sure to mention it in the introduction. Often people forget brief meetings so you can save them from embarrassment.

8. Include all necessary parties
If the people use their assistants, then copy the assistants of both parties if appropriate.

9. Only forward emails that make the originator look good

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. Forward only positive emails and, if you have to, edit the email before forwarding to make both sides look good.  

10. Make intentions of your introduction clear

If you are introducing single people of different genders, make sure that the purpose of your introduction is clear and that there is no misunderstanding.  Being clear about whether the introduction is a business or a personal one will preclude embarrassing situations where people have misaligned intentions. 

 
As an introducer, your goal should be for both parties to be glad that you made the intro.  If only party one gets value from the meeting, you have failed. But when you succeed, you have the potential to massively increase the happiness of both people.

14 thoughts on “Art of the Email Introduction

  1. Cliff Allen

    This is a challenging networking technique because it takes creativity to see – and explain – the benefit of each person connecting with the other. But, I’ve seen this technique lead to some powerful and productive partnerships.
    To help the two people get to know each other quickly, I include links to the public LinkedIn profile for both people.

    Reply
  2. Daniel James

    I recent tip I’ve taken to heart for those receiving introductions: it’s good practice to move the introducer to BCC on the first reply; they know that the introduction is moving forward, but they aren’t going to be getting a lot of ‘Can you talk Tuesday at 2pm?’ CC spam.

    Reply
  3. dina

    Yes, yes yes to this post. The key part is – make sure the connection is valuable to both people, or ask in advance if you’re unsure. This is definitely an art form, and if done well, it’s a blessing to people’s lives. Done poorly you’ve committed a serious crime of time wastage.

    Reply
  4. Ed Zschau

    Thoughtful post, Auren. I have found the key point in connecting two people is #2: Ask Permission. It’s a simple courtesy and you ensure follow up by both parties because each has indicated a desire to be intro’d.

    Reply
  5. Howard Cheng

    I agree with everything you said and have thought about this a lot too. Way too many people make bad intros.
    Perhaps one other to consider adding to your list (though you have 10 already) might be “Keep it concise”. I seen some really long winded ones which sometimes dilutes the impact/message.
    (On top of length diluting the impact of message, I think there is an inverse correlation to length of email and lower likelihood / longer delay in someone responding to it.)

    Reply
  6. Michael Ryan

    Auren,
    I usually cover most of your points on my e-troductions format. I will say
    Auren Hoffman: Bob Smith and I have known each other for 12 years and worked together at ADC company where he was CTO. He has a great strategic mind your firm may be needing. http://www.linkedin.com/BobSmith
    Bob Smith: Auren and I have know each other for 8 years and he is CEO of http://www.rapleaf.com he has a need for your strategic thinking and a project he mention to me today. http://www.linkedin.com/aurenhoffman

    Reply
  7. David Batup

    It would be great if the person requesting the introduction at least did items 1 and 2. So often I have pushed back on a request because of the lack of “why” would my contact want to talk to you. Everyone would do well to bear these points in mind as we all stand to loose if people using social networks make the same mistake as just grabbing business cards at a face to face event.

    Reply
  8. Gadi BenMark

    If you’re getting introduced, it’s best to then put the person who made the into in BCC, and state that this is what you’re doing. This way the person making the intro can see both sides following up on the intro, and that’s it, they’re no longer in the email train, and their inbox doesn’t get inundated with their back and forth emails.

    Reply
  9. Tim Rutten

    Great tips. Added, it might also be helpful to share the LinkedIn account of the person you’re introducing. If necessary, the friend you introduce a new person to can do a quick reference check with their own network.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s