The Double Opt-In Introduction
As you build your professional network it won’t be uncommon for someone you know to ask you for an introduction. A decade ago, Fred Wilson asked for the adoption of the double opt-in introduction. Today these are standard as they are compassionate way to connect people. This post describes the emails involved in the introduction dance.
Helping others expand their network contributes to compounding the value of your own. But it’s important to act with compassion toward those involved. Your colleague Bob may ask you to introduce you to your friend Alice. You don’t know if Alice has the interest or personal bandwidth to make the connection unless you ask her.
Never begin an introduction with an email cc’ing both Alice and Bob saying “Hi Alice, I’d like to introduce you to Bob”.
Instead, use a double opt-in introduction. First, send a short note to Alice.
Subject: Introduction Request
Hi Alice. I'd like to introduce you to Bob who is a [personal friend / person I've been mentoring / former colleague].
Bob would like to connect with you so he can learn more about [thing that interests Bob]. It may be valuable for you to connect as he [thing that Bob knows or does that Alice cares about].
May I have your permission to connect the two of you?
Keep the email short and concise. And don’t sell Bob short. Include the reason it would be valuable for Alice to accept the request.
If you don’t receive permission, send a short note back to Bob with regrets.
Subject: Introduction to Alice - Regrets
Hi Bob. Alice sends regrets that she is unable to make the intro.
As with invitations, regrets are the best simple and short. You need not give a reason. Bob is a compassionate and empathetic person so he doesn’t take the notice of regrets personally. He knows that people are busy and he’ll be able to find other means of solving his particular problem.
Having received permission, send an email cc’ing both Alice and Bob. I've used an introduction Trevor O recently made on my behalf to construct this template. It’s the best example of a double opt-in introduction email I’ve seen. I’m using it here with his permission.
Subject: Alice <> Bob
As mentioned, I'd like to introduce you to Bob. He and I know each other from [place you and Bob know each other from]. He's recently been [doing thing that interests Alice]. And I mentioned what you have been doing with [thing that interests Bob].
I'd like you to meet Alice. Alice has tons of experience with [thing that interests Bob]. I respect how she [thing that you respect about Alice].
I'll let you two take it from here.
The subject “NAME <> NAME” is the standard double opt-in introduction subject. Some people receive many introductions a week so it goes a long way to keep things consistent.
Begin by addressing the person granting the introduction. Introduce Alice to Bob with some brief info on how you know Bob and why it would be valuable for Alice to connect. Also, make it clear it’s a double opt-in introduction by stating “As mentioned …”. This lets Bob know you have already spoken to Alice.
Next, address the person who requested the introduction. In this case, introduce Bob to Alice and explain what she is doing in terms that will appeal to Bob.
Finally, sign off allowing both Alice and Bob to continue the conversation. Bob will reply to the email to follow up with Alice, removing you from the thread.
The double opt-in introduction is the compassionate way to make introductions. Using this system will grow the value of your network and your reputation.