The Anatomy of a Great Email Introduction
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I’ve been making a lot of email introductions lately. Friends looking for jobs, entrepreneurs looking for partners/customers, and anyone seeking expert advice. I’ve also been on the receiving end of a lot of intros for my startup, which I promise to talk more about soon.
Everyone does introductions differently – sometimes it’s a one-liner, sometimes it’s a couple paragraphs. I personally don’t like doing short intros unless they’re looking for lots of people who fit a very broad criteria (eg: dog sitting startup looking for dog owners), in which case I’d be more likely to tweet the request or share on Facebook.
In general, when I want to make an intro, I want to maximize the chances that it results in an actual engagement. This means I won’t make an introduction on behalf of someone I can’t vouch for, and I only introduce them to people I know well and who are likely to follow up.
People have told me that I make good intros and I thought I might break down how I do it. There are lots of great ways to do an intro, here’s mine.
How Jason Does Email Introductions
Let’s go through each element one at a time…
1) Subject: This has got to be catchy. Sometimes I make it short and vague (if they’re a busy person and I’m trying to pique their curiosity). Other times I do a more straight forward “Steve meet Joe [starting a blog”. Gotta make sure they open the email in a timely fashion!
2) Quick personal chit-chat: I only introduce people that I know decently well and who knew me. In this case, it was more of a business contact, but I gave them an update on what I was doing and wished their business well.
3) Who I’m introducing you to: This is where I give the background of the people I’m making the introduction for. I usually try to highlight how I know them, (in this case I forgot to) and showcase whatever they’re doing in the best light possible. In this case I included links to show what these entrepreneurs were up to.
4) “The Ask”: Here is where I ask the person I’m reaching out to for something. I think it’s important to have a specific request in mind. Usually this ask is for advice, perspective, a meeting, a beta invite — just ask for something! In this case, I asked the guy for his perspective on their startup’s contests and whether it would make sense for them to sell it as a product to web publishers. 
5) Why I’m asking you: This is where I establish the background of the person I’m reaching out to – both for the benefit of the people I’m making the introduction for, and also to underline why I’m asking this particular person for help. No one wants arbitrary requests – this shows you’ve thought about this.
6) Flattery/Compliments: If I’m making the introduction, it’s because I like and respect this person and I think a genuine indication of my high regard for that person is really valuable. Buttering up your target never hurts =)
7) Fun sign off or extra personal request: This is optional but I like to do it. I almost always add a PS in my emails because almost everyone reads them and you can add something tangential to the email, like a joke or an additional request. In this case, I’m asking if the guy I’m emailing knows anyone who are going to Burning Man.
So that’s what I got. I think introductions are a super powerful thing – I’ve gotten a lot of benefits from a well-written introduction and I strive mightly to ensure that every introduction I make adds value to both parties.
What do you think? How do you do email introductions? Anything I missed or got wrong? Let me know in the comments.
FOOTNOTES  One of my friends just got back from an internship in Washington D.C. and one of his biggest complaints is that he’d get introductions to meet legit people, but they’d get there and no one really knew what the meeting was for. It was just a “hey you two should meet”, which tend to be really crappy.