Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Introductions, the Right Way, Opt-In and BCC

I've gotten much better over the years at handling introductions, although I was certainly no good at this early on in my career.  With a little advice from smart folks all over the internet (see the links below), this is how I handle introductions.  Note that you may be anyone of these three people at different points in a given day, let alone over the course of your career.

Let's assume I want Brian to introduce me to Joe.

  1. I send an email to Brian saying something like this: "Brian, looks like you and Joe are connected.  I want to talk to him about X and Y.  Would you be up for making an intro?  Thx/Andrew" [Note: If you have other things to talk to Brian about, send a separate email for those topics.]
  2. If Brian DOES NOT want to intro or isn't comfortable doing it, he can politely decline or simply ignore my email.  Obviously the polite decline is preferable.
  3. If Brian DOES want to make the intro, he'll probably forward my email to Joe and say something like "Joe, You up for talking to this guy?  Here's his LinkedIn profile: [link].  He's a smart dude who did X, Y, Z.  I know him from [context]."
  4. Joe replies to Brian with a yes or a no.  
  5. If Joe says NO, Brian should send me a polite decline, but may opt to just skip it.
  6. If Joe says YES, Brian then sends an email to both me and Joe saying "Please meet." And may provide some detail about each of our backgrounds.
  7. (If I don't hear back from Brian for a while, I may follow up: "Hey, did you get a chance to reach out to Joe yet?")
  8. As the person who requested the introduction, I should reply to Brian's introduction email. This next piece is IMPORTANT -- I should reply-all, but I should move Brian to the BCC field.  In the body of the message, I should thank Brian and note that he's been BCC'd.  Then I should dive into my message to Joe.
This series of steps may seem like a lot of work, too slow and full of opportunities for drop off.  But it does all kinds of great stuff for each of the people involved.  Do it this way, please, for the good of the community.

David Crow: reply, Reply-All and bcc [nice graphic at the bottom of the page]
I'm sure I'm forgetting someone here who was influential on my thinking.  In particular, Chris Dixon pops to mind, but a quick search didn't turn up the relevant post.

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