Email Introduction Etiquette

2013-12-13 by Jason Freedman
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525-email-cartoon

If You Are Requesting An Introduction To Someone

 

Let’s use this scenario:  Joe the Founder is asking Mark the Advisor to give him an introduction to Suzanne the Investor. 

Mark just agreed to make the introduction on your behalf.  Joe should make it super easy for Mark to send the intro:

 

Thanks Mark. I’ll send you a fresh email now that you can forward on.

 

And then Joe should send a brand new email which includes everything he wants Suzanne to see:

 

Mark,

Thanks so much for offering to introduce me to Suzanne the Investor. 

I want to tell her about my new startup Instacolor. It’s Instagram meets Color but for videos.  We have amazing traction growing 20 percent month over month for the past four months. We are currently doing 50,000 uploads a day and we’re raising a seed round.

Best,

Joe the Founder

Recent Press: Techcrunch, PandoDaily, The Next Web

 

The reason you send a fresh email is that you want Mark the Advisor to be able to forward it from his mobile phone without having to delete all the content from your previous conversation.  This also gives you a chance to succinctly describe your startup exactly the way you want it to be heard. As always, you should obey the Emailing Busy People rules and make sure that your email is super short, very clear and makes a specific ask.

 

If You’re Requesting An Introduction On Behalf Of Someone

 

So now, Mark the Advisor will introduce Joe the Founder to Suzanne the Investor.

Should he just cc them both?

No!!!  That’s rude to Suzanne because it traps her into the conversation. Instead, Mark should forward the email from Joe with an intro request on top. It could be something like this:

 

Suzanne,

Would you like to be introduced to Joe the Founder who runs Instacolor? I promise you it will be worth your time.  See below for more details.

Best,

Mark the Advisor

 

If Suzanne receives this email, and she trusts Mark, she’ll almost certainly say yes. But she still has the opportunity to say no.

Often times Mark The Advisor won’t be so enthusiastic though. Instead he might say something like

 

Suzanne,

Joe the Founder asked for an introduction.  See below.

 Mark

 

Now Suzanne the Investor gets to make her own decision. And if she decides it’s not worth her time, she gets to allow Mark to make the pass.

If she is willing to take the meeting, then…

 

Once The Introduction Is Made

 

Mark The Advisor will send a short email to both Suzanne the Investor and Joe the Founder and say:

 

Suzanne, please meet Joe and vice versa. You guys will enjoy chatting.

 

At which point, Joe should respond and move Mark the Advisor to BCC and say:

 

Thanks Mark (moved to bcc).  

Suzanne, great to meet you.  Are you available to meet…

 

***

 

That, my friends, is proper email etiquette for requesting introductions.  Whether you’re interested in commercial real estate, startups, or anything else…please use it.

 

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About Jason Freedman

Entrepreneur, Co-Founder at 42Floors, Co-Founder at FlightCaster, YC-alum, and a Tuck MBA

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  • Upvote on Hacker News
  • http://officesnapshots.com Stephen (officesnapshots.com)

    I send a lot of cold intro emails and I think the style you propose translates well into that realm. I’ve whittled my email blurb down over time to only the basics (Who I am, What Office Snapshots Is, and What I Want) in about 3 sentences and the response rates have increased significantly.

  • KJJJJjjj

    It’s cool that during the course of the email introduction Mark the advisor started his new job at the British Broadcasting Corporation

    • http://humbledmba.com/ Jason Freedman

      Thanks ;) fixed.

  • emailmaster8000

    Why BCC someone, then say you BCC’ed them?

    • jeremyong

      So that a mistaken reply all won’t hit the blind copied recipient.

      • Douglas Mak

        Oh I see, so it’s just to let Mark know that you followed up, but you don’t have to let him in on the rest of the conversation.

    • Lumen

      So the other person in the conversation who is not BCC’ed doesn’t feel that the third party has been left our completely.

    • http://kix.in/ Anant Narayanan

      It’s polite to let everyone on the email know about who can read its contents. The person BCC’ed can read it, but there’s no way for the others to know that unless the sender explicitely says so.

    • kshahislove

      Everything said below is correct, but it’s mainly so the person who made the introduction then doesn’t have to get caught in your back and forth.

  • gregarnette

    A few ideas for writing better introduction & meeting request emails.

    http://www.gregarnette.com/blog/2012/11/3-rules-for-perfect-email/

  • http://travelatus.com/ Valentin Dombrovsky

    Please, make one step left and 2 steps right before moving forward. Well, that’s what ethiquete is about. Can someone introduce me to Jason Freedman?

    • Hello

      Yes, to make sure you’re not stepping on anyone’s feet before going forward.

  • http://www.scoutzie.com/?utm_source=disqus&utm_medium=display_name&utm_campaign=disqus_display Kirill Zubovsky | Scoutzie.com

    One key point that I think you should add – once the introduction is made, it’s not Suzanne’s job to follow up. It’s Joe’s job to follow up with S once again. After all, he needs her, not the other way around.

    • http://humbledmba.com/ Jason Freedman

      agreed.

  • http://DarwinApps.com/ Vlad Lokshin

    I think you make some great points, but (all of) the scenarios are too specific to be immediately relatable.

    I use this one ALL of the time:

    “Thanks Mark (moved to bcc).”

    There’s no quicker way to show that you respect the time of the person making the intro, from either receiving end of the intro.

    Great post, but I do recommend stressing this “thanks, moved to BCC” specific quicker and louder.

  • Branson

    Great tips Jason.
    Ps, I also like how you manage to slide in a link with the anchor as commercial real estate all the time :).

    • http://humbledmba.com/ Jason Freedman

      for when my posts get reposted elsewhere…

  • http://dcncrowley.posterous.com dccrowley

    imo in email protocol you should never use bcc, cc is open and transparent

    • John

      The point with BCC is so Mark isn’t copied on future correspondence. The CC line, in this case, may be used for someone like a co-founder (who would be included in replies). The “moved to BCC” parenthetical provides the transparency and acknowledgement of receipt/action.

    • Paul J Warner

      I will have to agree to disagree, the bcc is for this exact purpose. Adding someone to the email that you don’t want to reply all with the obligatory “np” or “thanks”…additionally bcc is great when sending a mass work email.

  • http://twitter.com/casey__allen Casey Allen

    AND THEN, at which point, Joe should star this thread and follow up two weeks later (or whenever) with Mark the Advisor and say:

    “Mark, I just wanted to bring this full circle to let you know how things went. I met with Suzanne this AM for a 45 minute coffee. It ended up gong almost 90. She knows a ton about our space and we had a very data-driven conversation about where sharing and LTV is headed.

    She was intrigued, asked for my deck, and I’m in the process of having her meet the rest of our team next week.

    Also, she’s looking to bring on interns for her new fund, so I’m helping her filter some entrepreneurial rockstars from my alma mater so she can find someone solid.

    I massively appreciate the invite, am feeling good about the chemistry between Suzanne and me, and will let you know how things end up.

    How can I help you?

    Cheerio,
    Joe”

    Are you in the top 1%?

    This follow up is only done by about .5% of people I actually broker intros for. And because of follow ups like these, I would bend over backwards for those .5% because they were gracious receivers and they took the time to give me mental closure, as well as to reinforce that shit didn’t go sideways.

    It’s the three minute emails like this one that determine whether I’ll broker two or twenty email intros for an entrepreneur over their lifetime. Three very, very important minutes.

    • http://travelatus.com/ Valentin Dombrovsky

      I thought that “paying back” should be implied by everyone involved in the situation.
      So you mean that if you don’t receive such emails, you’ll stop helping people when they ask you?

      • http://twitter.com/casey__allen Casey Allen

        Nothing is implied.

        And no, I won’t necessarily stop, but I’ll be slower, less enthusiastic, and less likely to really go to bat for an intro that is a big step up for them.

        I give my girlfriend back rubs because I love her and want to see her happy. But in the absence of any gratitude and improved backs, I’ll gradually get less and less excited to do so.

        • http://travelatus.com/ Valentin Dombrovsky

          Well, I really understand your motivation but think about the feelings that you have when you see that something in the world goes on the right way thanks to what you’re doing.

          Well, sorry, that’s just some kind of idealistic bullshit – I understand.

          What I know, is that I’ll be less enthusiastic in offering help to someone who’s not enthusiastic to help me. And, oh, I believe, many will regret it someday. Though it sounds funny and childish at the moment, I understand.

          • http://twitter.com/casey__allen Casey Allen

            Valentin:

            I see your point, and trust me, I feel great if I can play a role in connecting dots. And there’s nothing wrong with being idealistic.

            But there are good ways, and there are GREAT ways to show appreciation.

            What I had hoped to do is show a great way.

    • Bhavin

      So true. This doesn’t happen nearly enough.

  • John Fries

    Jason, what should Mark the Advisor say to Joe the Founder if Suzanne the Investor declines the introduction?

    • http://humbledmba.com/ Jason Freedman

      Sorry. She decided to pass. Who else can we try?

      (BTW–this happens all the time.)

  • http://jacksmith.eu/blog/ Jack Smith

    Essential ettiquette to learn coming into the Valley. Compliments the great advice given by Elad Gil:

    http://blog.eladgil.com/2012/08/ask-before-you-intro.html
    http://blog.eladgil.com/2011/11/how-to-reply-to-angel-investor-intro.html

  • Debbie Landa

    You nailed it Jason….I can’t count how many times I’ve had to ask people to do this. And Casey Allen, that would be the best follow up….if only founders understood this better.

  • KK

    Exactly what I was looking for. Thanks for clearly explaining.