How I introduce people

I’ve gotten to know a lot of great people throughout my career. Largely without burning bridges too badly.

Sometimes I’m asked by one of those great people to make an introduction to another.

Few things give me more joy than making connections between impactful people. Likewise, being the one to make a meaningful introduction is usually valued, respected and remembered by the people you connect.

The thing is that not all introductions are appropriate, timely or a match for the conversation at hand, so I’ve come up with a method that I find works well and benefits all parties. It goes something like this:

  1. I ask the person that seeks the introduction to send me a “clean email” (sometimes called “Self Contained Forwardable Email — SCFE”). This is a new email with a relevant subject line, no reply or forward trail nor mention of anything other than the introduction and topic. The email should explain the reason they want to connect in their own words. Starting the email — or at least imagine it beginning — with the words “Hjalmar, thanks for offering to introduce me to [so-and-so]…” helps frame the text. I also ask them to keep it short. 3 paragraphs is perfect. 2 is better. (5 is right out)
  2. I then forward this email “wholesale” to the other person adding minor context from me on the person, the opportunity or topic at hand, but mostly the forwarded email shall speak for itself. In this email I simply ask if the recipient would like me to make an introduction.
  3. If the answer is yes, I then write a new email (no forward trail) that goes something like:
    “You both have context, so I’ll make this brief:
    * X is so and so.
    * Y is this and that.
    Always a pleasure connecting impactful people, I’ll leave it to the two of you to find the right time and method for a conversation.”

    X and Y typically link to the LinkedIn profiles of the people in question.
  4. If the answer is no, I tell the person that sought the introduction that the other person declined, providing a reason or context if given and appropriate.

That’s it. This “process” has worked extremely well for me, and while it may sound like a bit of a ritual, this has a lot of benefits for everyone involved:

  • The one that seeks the introduction gets to explain the topic in their own words.
  • I can provide my context to the outreach with minimal effort.
  • The recipient can choose wether to engage or not, and is usually thankful for the “shielding” this provides from directly connecting all three in a conversation that may not be worth anyone’s time.
  • If it has merit a successful connection is made and eventually something great happens :)

P.S. I don’t claim to have invented any of this, but picked up bits and pieces here and there, lost to the advice trails of the web, Twitter and good mentor conversations.