Once every week or so, a friend in the industry asks me to introduce them to another friend in the industry. In most circumstances, I view this as a potential win-win-win for all parties involved; that’s my favorite type of outcome in any situation.
I have a specific approach to these introductions that I thought I’d share today in case they may help you, especially since I’m sure I’ll learn from your thoughts in the comments to improve my method. I’ll also include some methods shared by Stonemaier Ambassadors.
There are some situations where a full introduction isn’t necessary or isn’t a win-win-win, in my opinion. Just yesterday, someone I don’t know well at a well-known company emailed me for an introduction to someone on our team (someone they already held in high acclaim). Their message didn’t reveal any information they weren’t going to immediately share with my coworker, so I simply CCed my coworker so they could see the context and reply as they wish.
If someone is a complete stranger (I’ve never had contact with them or heard of them or their company) and asks for an introduction to someone I know, they’re adding an layer (me) who shouldn’t be there–they can just contact the person directly and introduce themselves.
Another rare example is if someone contacts me to say, “I’ve sent multiple messages to a person you know, and they haven’t responded. Can you make a direct introduction?” If someone isn’t replying to your messages, it’s because they don’t want to reply to your messages (or aren’t available), and I’m not going to enable that behavior with an introduction.
Public Introductions to Content Creators
If you’re considering an introduction for someone who is seeking information from a content creator, please ask yourself if it’s truly mutually beneficial for all parties involved. For example, you have a friend who is working on a board game and they’re looking for advice. Instead of privately introducing them to a publisher or designer, help your friend (and respect the publisher/designer’s time) by seeing if that publisher/designer has publicly available content, and encourage your friend to consume the content and ask questions in the comments.
Privately requested feedback only helps one person, but posting on a public forum shows a generosity of information–you’re creating a way for others to learn with you (and from you). Read more about this here.
I pursue full introductions when I either know both parties well, an introduction will be mutually beneficial for both parties, and I want to strengthen my relationship with either party. That’s the win-win-win.
I try to keep my introductions short: 2 paragraphs, each 2-3 sentences. They typically contain the following ingredients:
If Person A asked to be introduced to Person B, I start by saying who Person A is, including something specific I like about them.
I then say something specific I like about Person B (since Person A asked for the introduction, they already know who Person B is).
I briefly say why I think the A-B combo will be mutually beneficial.
Last, importantly, I gave Person B an “out”; a way to reply with a link instead of continuing a private conversation. I most often do this when Person A is seeking specific information, as it might be easier for Person B to provide a link to an article, podcast, or video they’ve created on the topic. As the person making the introduction, I want to be the one to take the pressure off of Person B and treat their time with respect.
In my opinion, if all of those ingredients are included and it’s genuinely mutually beneficial, there’s hardly ever a need for pre-introduction permission–you can save everyone’s time by just going ahead and making the introduction by email, and each party can reply if/when they want.
I asked Stonemaier Ambassadors for their tips and methods for making introductions, and here’s what some of them said (with some commentary from me):
“If known, mention something they have in common that could potentially make both of them excited to talk to each other for some reason other than the original purpose (e.g., I know both of you play tennis and are Star Wars fans).” [JAMEY: I like this, particularly when it’s a fun topic that might create instant camaraderie.]
“I have always tried to provide as much info as possible about whoever I’m introducing, as long as that info pertains to what we’re all talking about. Rather have too much info than not enough.” [JAMEY: I think there are some merits to this, but I try to be careful about not sharing information that isn’t mine to share. Also, because most introductions are meant to connect two other people–you step away–keeping it short and sweet seems more effective to me.]
“…direct one of them with a task to keep the conversation going ‘Tom, would you find a time that works for you two to discuss X topic?’” [JAMEY: I really don’t like this method, as it’s not my place to give the people a task, nor is it my place to put that type of pressure/expectation on Person B.]
“I think the best way would be to create an online meeting invite.” [JAMEY: A few ambassadors mentioned non-email introductions, but I personally think that email is by far the best way to make an introduction (unless you’re literally in the same room with the people). Email is an extremely low-pressure medium that requires no time or scheduling.]
“…useful details (like timezone)” [JAMEY: I hadn’t thought of that, but if there is a major reason why someone might not reply right away, it’s probably worth mentioning in the email.]
“Compliment each of them on things I know the other other admire.” [JAMEY: I really like this.]
Also, just for fun, I wanted to share my favorite example provided by an ambassador (for context, Walter is one of my cats): “Hi Walter. Hi Jamey. Allow me to introduce the both of you. Walter, Jamey owns a big bed with windows on the east and west walls so no matter the time of day there is always sunlight falling on the bed. Jamey, Walter loves napping on cushy surfaces in the sunlight.”
When Do I Ask for Introductions?
As I was writing this, I was trying to think of the last time I asked someone for an introduction, and I can’t think of an example. 99% of the time, I just look up the person’s contact information online. If they want to be contacted, they have their email or a contact form on their website, and if they don’t have a website, they’re on Instagram, Twitter, or BoardGameGeek (I don’t use Facebook Messenger).
Or, as mentioned above, if the question I want to ask isn’t private/confidential, I ask the person in a public forum so the answer can potentially benefit other people too.
What methods do you use to make introductions over email, and in what situations do you make an introduction versus a CC (or not at all). What do you appreciate about others’ methods when they make an introduction to you?
Also read: Say Yes to Every Interview
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