One of the best things you can do to build social capital is to proactively make introductions when you feel there could be mutual benefit. Introductions are great both for the person making the intro and the person receiving it.
The best operators and investors in Silicon Valley – the super connectors – all started one email introduction at a time.
However there is an art to making a proper email introduction. In more recent years, the topic of email introductions has gone viral and everyone seems to have an opinion. Personally, introductions I make tend to fall into one of two camps: either the intro is purely an intro (no intent behind it), or more likely, the intro has a transaction embedded in it. This transaction could be mutually beneficial (such as introducing a founder and an investor), but it’s a bit different from a “Hey, you two would hit it off!” situation.
When a transaction is involved, I always like to do a double-opt in. Make sure both parties are aware and cool with you putting them in touch. It takes an extra step, but it’s appreciated and keeps you from looking bad if one person doesn’t respond.
Best Subject Lines For Email Introductions:
A good email introduction has a subject line such as:
Sam Meet Ben. Ben Meet Sam.
Doug Jones (Company X) <—meet—> Sally Smith (Company Y)
Format For A Perfect Email Introduction:
When writing an introduction I like to address one person directly (slyly suggesting one person take responding initiative), but leaving it open to either side to reply first.
For example, if Ben asked me to introduce him to Peter, I’d write something like:
I wanted to introduce you to Ben (Linkedin Profile). Ben is the product guru and a founder of Workstreamer.com. Peter(Linkedin Profile) is an active angel investor in the enterprise SaaS space.
Based on your mutual interest in collaboration tools, I think it would be worthwhile for you guys to connect.
I’ll let you two take it from here.
Hyperlinking the person’s name to their Linkedin does take some effort, put it really makes your introduction standout.
Email Introduction Etiquette:
If you are the recipient of an introduction, the introducer always appreciates knowing that you took action. The best etiquette is to mention your are moving to the introducer to BCC in the reply.
Another approach, especially if you are requesting someone make an introduction on your behalf is to offer either a forward-able snippet (your background in 1-2 sentences) or a “clean email” that can be forwarded on.
Ultimately email introductions can be as complicated as you want to make them (I have literally seen someone make an intro and then follow up with a survey! Please don’t!). Personally I think KISS (keep it simple stupid) is always best.