I get asked by lots of folks to make intros to others in my network. With more connections to nurture than physically possible, I actually enjoy making intros. Why?
- Introductions give me an opportunity to check in with a connection without sending a weak ‘just checking in’ email that wastes everyone’s time.
- Introductions give me a chance to position myself to either party as a benefactor. Unquantified reciprocity is the new quid pro quo.
- Introductions are a way to demonstrate my understanding of a potential market/opportunity/problem for the recipient solved by something the requestor is bringing to the table.
On a daily basis, my inboxes fill up, and while I try to get back to every email within 24 hours, there are some that get parked for later. Introductions can sometimes fall into this category especially when (respectfully):
- We haven’t talked in a while (or ever) and I can’t remember what it is you actually do.
- You don’t have any social capital built up with me and I don’t want to risk a losing social capital with the person you are requesting an intro to.
- I’m busy and don’t want to stop what I am doing to research you, your company, or try to remember how we actually met and what I thought of you or your company.
- Timing isn’t right. For example: if you want an intro to an investor and I’m raising money from them, your ‘new and great’ opportunity could get in the way of mine. Same is true for a biz dev deal where a partnering company only has bandwidth to engage with one or two new projects/startups in the next 3-6 months.
- This is the most selfish reason and one I wouldn’t suggest, but it can happen. Did you ever ignore or refuse an introduction that I asked for? Maybe I’ll use this as an opportunity to see if there is anyone you are connected with that I could benefit from meeting.
Depending on how well I know the person you are trying to meet, I may ask for permission to make the intro before actually making it. Save me a step, when you ask for the intro, make it forwardable.
So, how do you actually compose the best forwardable email intro? I’ve broken down the optimal structure (from my experience).
Subject Line: Intro Request: Jeff Lebowski
Intro or Introduction doesn’t really matter here, but I take into consideration the character length limitations for a mobile email client and usually go with Intro.
First Line of Email: Hi Ryan, I can’t believe it’s been two years since we sat across from each other at WeWork. I hope you, Corrie and Jack are enjoying your new home in Cleveland.
Whether I want to admit it or not, the face that you remembered personal details about my family indicates that you a) know me well b) are thorough and detail oriented and/or c) interested enough in the intro to track down the information you think may sway my judgement or time to respond. You can sweeten this intro with something like, “I have Cavs season tickets and I’d love for you to be my guest at the home opener.”
Next Line: MyCompanyName (http://mycompany.com) works with widget makers like Widget Express and Widget Emporium to automatically scan for defects. We just did something great and our new product (http://linktonewproduct) is driving some tangible metric that will agitate or excite the intro recipient.
Play to the intro recipient’s interests or motivational points:
- We work with Competitor A, Competitor B, & Competitor C.
- We’ve helped a company in this space increase some metric by x% or better yet x dollars.
- Some other tangible or vanity metric that is going to make your prospect look like a rock star for ‘discovering’ you or at least like a super connected and relevant person for someone to have brought him/her your introduction request.
I see on LinkedIn that you are connected to Jeff Lebowski, VP Operations at WidgetsRUs (http://linktosocialprofile). Would you please connect us via email?
I like asking for an email intro because, in my experience, automated intros via other ‘social networks’ tend to get lost in the shuffle, ignored, or responded to much later than email. When I get asked for intros, often they are to people I don’t know incredibly well or haven’t worked with in a while, and I may need to do a quick refresher on how I know that person. I like to include the link to the person’s network profile, so, if the person is like me and wants to do quick research, they have a link at their fingertips.
Growth at SellHack.com
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I prefer not using ‘Thanks in Advance’ as it’s an assumptive close and runs the risk of being negatively perceived. Your personality can really be summed up in the words you choose in the sign off. I don’t read a ton into it but some folks do.
Ultimately, know who you are reaching out to for an intro and who the end recipient is. You are a person, not a robot. People buy from and invest capital in people they know like and trust (capital comes in many forms – time, money, attention).
The last intro I requested was blocked when the recipient declined an intro. It happens and I have thick skin. I also hack SellHack to get his email address, so there will be a politely persistent follow-up a few weeks from now to the gentlemen with a better approach and value proposition.
*This post has no scientific basis other than my own personal experience. Please share your tips, tricks, advice and hacks in the comments.
Ryan (& the SellHack Team)