The Proper Way to Do an Email Introduction #STARTUPPROTIP

Today’s StartupProTip regards the proper way to tee up an introduction.  I had thought the “opt in” protocol was pretty well understood out here, but I’ve seen at least a handful of violators in the past few days, so I thought it’d be worth a revisit.

First some background.  In the tech startup world and ecosystem, people are constantly looking to get introduced.  Introductions to potential hires and cofounders, potential customers, potential investors, potential investment opportunities, etc.  And often, there will be an intermediary, the referrer who knows both parties, who can connect the person  seeking an introduction and the person being introduced.

In these cases, the proper protocol is what I call the “opt in approach.”  Recently, though, I’ve seen many who’ve gone what I call the cold intro route.  Here’s the “cold intro” route, and its to be avoided:

From Susie

To: Jay & Bob

Re: Intro Jay & Bob


Hi Jay & Bob,


I think you two will enjoy meeting each other, so I’m connecting you here.  Bob, Jay is a vc at BlueShirt VC and he’s invested in our company.  Jay, Bob is starting a company.  I’ll let you two connect and take from here.  Hope you can connect!


This is a cold intro.  Don’t do it.  Neither party has a great sense of the other person, nearly impossible to prioritize.

Instead, use the Opt-in Approach.  When Susie offers to connect the two nodes, she should first contact privately the person who would be the receiver of the introduction.  The referrer provides some context for the sought introduction–who the person is, why they want to be connected to you, etc.  This gives the person being introduced the opportunity to vet and prioritize this slightly; he or she can respond with a direct email then helping guide the referrer on how to tee up the introduction, etc.

Here’s how it works with the same hypothetical example..

From: Susie

To: Jay

Re: Potential referral


Hi Jay,


Hope you’re well, great seeing you last week.  A former colleague of mine, Bob, is starting a company and I think you’d enjoy meeting him.  Company is involved in spaces you care about, and he’s a star.  Let me know if alright to connect you.








From: Jay

To: Susie

Re: Potential Referral


Hi Susie,


That sounds great.  Please connect away!  I’m out of town next week but happy to meet up–any referral from you is always welcome!




See how easy that is.  Now when Susie tees up the intro, we are all on the same page.  She can even let Bob know that I’m out next week.  No fuss, no muss.



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