Effective intros

My life consists of making intros to various people – for better or worse. I love connecting dots, so it’s a lot of fun and often rewarding, but it can also be lots of back and forth. In the series of “posts that originally were emails I wrote at least 5 times in the last week”, here is some advice as to how to make it work.

Whenever you are looking for an introduction, the key is to make it clean, understandable and directed.

How to ask for an intro in three simple steps:

  1. Clean: Use a fresh, empty, virgin email with a powerful subject line that conveys your message to the introducer and the next person
  2. Understandable: A short paragraph describing what you are working on (relative to you/ your company) and what you are looking for and information about the steps you have already taken, and why that did not work (if applicable)
  3. Directed: Put a specific ask in there so the person on the other end knows how he can help

“Hi Philipp,
we are looking for…. because we want to… I tried … but it did not work because… Do you know XYZ/someone at… would be great to be introduced.”

BEFORE you ask for that intro:

  • Please check if you can find the solution on the interwebs or the documentation (FB, Google, Twitter, etc have great docs that you will most likely be referred to if your question is not specific)
  • Find out if you maybe already know that person. It usually works better if you know them yourself.

When introduced, be polite and humble.

This should be more than obvious. No one owes you a thing – you asked for the introduction in the first place. Afterwards, keep it easy for the introducer and move them to bcc as soon as the introduced person replies.

[EDIT] In my case, I would probably forward the email to the next person, add a little flavor and some witty (bad) jokes, and get out of the way.

Fred Wilson wrote about another technique when making introductions – the double opt in. Basically, it entails asking both people if they would like to be introduced to each other before you make the introduction – otherwise you can leave a sour taste.

  • http://twitter.com/tobydownton Toby Downton

    Great post Philipp, I get everything you are saying and will refer back to this post over the year as I become accustomed to working like this. One question for you – how well should you know the introducer? For example, I’m connected to you on LinkedIn, but have never met you or spoken to you. I feel like I need to properly introduce myself to you first, before asking you to make an intro right? If there’s any way I can help you, or make an intro for you, give me a shout!

    Rgds @tobydownton:disqus 

  • http://www.philippmoehring.de P. Moehring

    I only make direct intros to people that I know, because if it’s a cold intro, the original person might just as well get in touch directly. 

    A lot of the intros I make are to people that expect me to connect them – like developer relations people of larger firms to engineers at some of our startups, VCs to founders (and vice versa), and such. In that case, a direct intro works really well. 

    A big part of my daily work is to make sure our companies are in touch with the right people to help them out. This is how I do it. 

    If it’s a more delicate relationship, I certainly use the “double opt in” method, as I don’t want to overload other peoples inboxes if it dosen’t make sense. Fred describes the negative outcomes quite well in his post :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/tobydownton Toby Downton

    Nice one Philipp, I’ll have to go and check out Fred’s post now…:-)