A Guide to Not Blowing It: The Art of the Email Introduction

Despite not getting the job, I received an email from one of the men who interviewed me saying, “I’m a big fan. I could probably make some intros for you. Nothing set in stone but could maybe get the ball rolling.”

People who don't give you a job usually don't do this kind of thing. I knew this was a huge opportunity, so I agreed to his offer.

When I received the first introduction, I realized I had a new problem: I didn’t know how to handle email introductions. It wasn’t that I thought they were over complicated. I just hadn’t done one...ever.

My instinct said there was a proper way to do this - a business protocol - but I had no idea what it was. I furiously Googled different phrases about email introductions. All I could find was generic information about being polite. Not all that helpful...

Later that day, I got the email. Brief. Casual. To the point.

Hi Chris,

I wanted to introduce you to Joe at [Company].  Joe's been with [Company] for about a year now and they are crushing it.  I don't know if they are looking for people at the moment, but Joe's a great guy to know in the community. He's going to be out of town so a meet up might need to wait a few weeks.

Joe, meet Chris. I gave you a little background prior. Chris is looking to make a big change and is super committed.

I'll turn it over to you two.  Thanks.

Getting it “right” is always something worth striving for. Even if I didn't know exactly how to respond, I figured I knew how to be a decent human being worth knowing, so I imagined what I would say in person, wrote it out, and fired it off. 

Meeting and talking to new people has never been a challenge for me, so when I look back on how scared I was to respond to this simple email, it seems silly now.

Since that day, I’ve introduced many people via email and have been introduced to many more. Some people do it well - but most are terrible at it.

Here are a few things to keep in mind the next time you’re handling introductions via email.

RESPOND QUICKLY

I have a general rule of responding to emails within 24 hours anyway, but I treat introductions as high priority tasks. I never want to miss an opportunity to form a solid business relationship.

If someone has taken the time to set up an email introduction, I want to show them how much I value it by responding right away.

Think of it like this: If you were in person, you wouldn’t hesitate to say hello, so why make them wait via email? This doesn't mean you have to email back immediately, but you do want to strike while the iron's hot.

Use BCC!

We’ve all been a part of an email chain that involves multiple people with a back and forth that never ends. It sucks, especially if it only pertains to two of the three people involved.

If you’re on the receiving end of the introduction, the proper way to respond is this:

  1. Hit reply all.

  2. Move the person who made the introduction to BCC (blind carbon copy).

  3. Move the person being introduced to the Recipient line.

  4. Immediately mention in the body text that the introducer has been moved to BCC.

This does a couple of things. It keeps the introducer from being included in any back and forth and it lets them know that you followed up. It shows them that you value the introduction and their time.

Get to the Point

Your response shouldn’t be some long, drawn-out explanation of you and your services. Keep it brief and offer to talk more when they have time. Essentially, you’re interrupting them, so give them space to have more time for you.

Also, no need to explain yourself. You can assume that the person who introduced you has given the other person a heads-up about who you are and what you do. They may have even done it in the email. Either way, just get to the point.

[Introducer’s Name], I moved you to BCC.

Hi [New Person’s Name],

Nice to meet you. [Introducer’s Name] told me great things about you. He/She thought you might need some copywriting help down the road. I'm happy to jump in however I can.

Looking forward to talking more.

Best,

[Your Name]

This keeps expectations low but provides an opportunity for you to invite them to talk more at a later time (assuming they respond).

Respond, even if you don’t need the help.

I often receive email introductions, respond quickly, and then never hear back. This is rude.

It tells me that you’re not interested in me and that you really don’t value the person who took the time to set us up.

If our mutual friend introduces us at a party and you walk away without saying anything, you’re a dick. It’s not cool in real life and it’s not cool via email.

The rule here is simple: Don’t be a dick. Take two minutes and say hello. It’s not that hard. Even if it goes nowhere, it's just the polite thing to do. (Yes, even if you're crazy busy.)

Follow Up

Some people are busy and they may not respond as quickly as you’d like (or at all). Their values probably aren’t yours, so remember - you can’t take anything personally.

But you can make an effort to remind them of who you are.

Give them a few days to respond, but make a note to yourself to follow up if you haven’t heard back. I usually follow up just once -  about 10-14 days after the initial contact.

Again, keep it brief, but also let them know that you’re not going to continue chasing them.

Hey [New Person’s Name],

[Introducer’s Name] introduced us via email a few weeks ago. Hope you're well.

I just wanted to check in with you one more time. If I can jump in and help with any copywriting in the next few months, please let me know. I'd love to talk.

Best,

[Your Name]

That line, "one more time," lets them know that you respect their time and it sets a boundary: your time is valuable too. Do what you can with what you've got, then move on. Sometimes you have to leave the ball in their court.

Your Sole Focus: Leveling Up

Your only concern - whether you have a back and forth after the general intro or not - should be leveraging this opening to have a real-life conversation. Ask them to coffee. Set up a quick call to talk more. Meet them for happy hour.

The introduction is a stepping stone, not a final move. Whether you’re starting out or you’re well established, show that you value people’s time, don’t be a dick, and always be grateful.

You never know when it might turn into something great.