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The Right Way To Ask For An Introduction

Odds of entrepreneurial success are improved with getting introduced to potential customers, investors, candidates, analysts and partners.

However, there's a right way and a wrong way to ask for and make introductions. As I often find myself in the position of making introductions, I've found a method that I'd encourage others to use. If you are someone looking for introductions, take note.

The "double-opt-in" method of making introductions

An introduction involves three people.

Person 1 - wants to be introduced to person 3
Person 2 - knows person 2 and person 3
Person 3 - knows person 2

I am often in the position of person 2.

Here's what I do.

A person 1 emails me asking that I intro them to person 3.

For me to want to do this I need to feel that

  1. I rate person 1 enough to make the intro (they are known to me, I trust them)
  2. I believe that the introduction will be of use to person 3 (therefore I need to understand the reason for the introduction)

I also need a way to say no if it's not relevant to me.

If you're asking me to make an introduction make sure you;

  • remind me how we know each other / when we spoke (if relevant)
  • explain what you need help with
  • explain who you would like to be contacted with
  • ask if I know the person well enough to make the introduction
  • give me an out so I can decline politely if I need to
  • do this with me directly, not via LinkedIn

What I will then do is I will approach the person asking if they'd like to be introduced giving some background information. If your email is good, I will just need to copy/paste some key lines and not have to think too hard about drafting my own copy.

I'm asking the person if they are willing to accept the introduction. I have opt-in from you (person 1), now I need opt-in from person 3. If person 3 responds with a yes, I make the introduction. It's now a double-opt-in. Both parties want the introduction to go ahead.

My email might be something like this;

Subject: Elizabeth < > Joe

Dear Elizabeth and Joe,

As promised an introduction.

Elizabeth: As I explained Joe and I used to work together at [company name]. He's got a knack for building amazing products and he's just started a new venture and is looking for advice on [subject]. Given your experience I thought you'd be a great person from him to learn from.

Joe: Elizabeth is [job title] at [company name] and she is probably the smartest person I know when it comes to [topic].

I'm sure you'd both have a lot of mutual interest to discuss so I'll leave you to connect directly.

All the best, David

Now it's over to you to honour the deal.

  • respond quickly and politely. Cc me so I know you have connected but move me to bcc so that I don't stay in the thread
  • Come back to me once you've met to let me know how you get on

You'd be amazed how many people don't think about introductions like this.

Principles at work here

  • Provide enough information
  • Offer a way out
  • Make it easy
  • Respect the reputations of all parties
  • Follow up and say thank you
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