How to Make a Professional Email IntroductionMastering the Double Opt-In

An online email mailbox with one notification implying that there is an unread email or several

We recently had a guest writer discuss networking. Often, the impact of networking is directly related to the way the introduction has happened. Over the last few years, we have been happy to finally see an evolution of email etiquette, to standardize email introductions so they are professional and polite. It’s called the Double-Opt In Email Introduction, and we think it’s an essential part of any professionals repertoire.

The Objective of the Email Introduction

Before we dive into mechanics, let’s be clear as to why you are introducing the two people, or in some cases, why you are being introduced via email. Usually it is because:- You know them both well.

  • You have understood both their objectives reasonably well and think they will both benefit from the introduction.

  • The introduction doesn’t need you to actively participate in this meeting or conversation (otherwise you would find a way to introduce them in person)

Now — you may have noticed that we emphasize benefit to both participants. Often though, you are introducing someone who needs a favor to someone who can deliver a favor — like a candidate for a job to a prospective employer, or a startup founder seeking funding from a potential investor. That is fine, but it’s imperative that you have done a degree of diligence to ensure that the candidate would be a good fit for the role, or the startup being pitched is one that is likely to fit the investor’s investment criteria. Do not use an introduction to show-off your connectivity or to call in favors. Use it sparingly and effectively so that your introductions are respected and taken seriously.

Once you have identified that these three criteria are met, you have the following objectives in an email introduction:- Making sure that both parties are comfortable with the introduction

  • Clearly and succinctly introducing them

  • Making sure that you are elegantly separated from the dialogue going forward and aren’t spammed with their emails

The Double-Opt-in Method

This method was first proposed by the famous VC, Fred Smith, of Union Square Ventures on his blog, in 2009 and has since been further developed and expanded on, like in this post by Mark Suster. This addresses several of the objectives we discussed. This works in the following way:

  • Email (or call) both parties and explain who you would like to introduce them to, and why it would be beneficial for them to talk to this person.

  • Once both parties have responded with the affirmative, send an email copying both parties with a clear subject title and introduction. An example is below:

Subject: Introduction — Fred / Jack

Fred — As discussed, I wanted to introduce you to Jack who I know well and could be a great fit for the product manager role you were seeking to fill. Jack and I worked together for 10 years and he has substantial product management experience in ecommerce, most recently at Amazing Company.

Jack — As we discussed, I have consulted for Fred’s company for the last 3 years and know him well. They have a pipeline of really exciting products in the arts marketplace, and are seeking someone with significant product management experience._

I will leave you two to connect directly. Look forward to catching up with both of you soon.

  • Once the introduction has been made, Fred or Jack should respond soon there after moving the introducer to BCC. This is very important. It allows the introducer to know that the connection has been made but saves him from receiving future emails on scheduling and so forth. An example is as follows:

Jane — Thank you for the introduction. Moving you to BCC.

Fred — As Jane mentioned, I am currently a senior product manager at Amazing Company where I have been for the last 10 years. I am looking for a position at an exciting startup and Jane has spoken very highly of you and your company. I would love to connect with you over the phone, or in person, so we can explore if there is a potential fit.

Common mistakes in email introductions to avoid

  • Copying the person being introduced in your initial email. So if Jane had copied Jack in her original email to Fred, without checking with Fred first, that would have put Fred in an awkward position in case he had to say no. That is both impolite and damaging to the relationship. Always check with both parties that they want to be introduced before making the introduction. Unfortunately, we see this mistake happening all too often.

  • Having a long-winded email, or an unclear subject line that is hard to decipher. This can be an issue with any email, but you want to make it easy for both people to understand why the introduction makes sense. Using the example above, it is common for introducers like Jane to describe Jack’s entire background when introducing him and including his resume. Don’t do that.

  • Don’t over-sell. State the clear facts in the introduction that you are sure of. If you know someone personally but not professionally, make that clear in the introduction.

  • When being introduced, don’t delay in responding. That can be seen as rude. Ideally respond within 24 hours.

  • Make sure to move the introducer to BCC as opposed to just using reply-all after the introduction so they aren’t spammed with the back and forth after.

An introduction if often the best way to get a job. So practice this method and demonstrate your email skills and professionalism.

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Chris the Climber is a team of Tapwage writers who write about the specific skills that are needed in rapidly evolving careers