Q: My friend wants me to intro him or her to a contact of mine. What's the right way to "broker" an intro?

A: That's very generous of you to open up your network! Once you've decided to help your friend out, ask each of them to opt-in to the introduction before making the introduction. Ah, the classic "double opt-in"!

  1. Make double opt-in introductions

    Your friend has already indicated she (let's call her Amy) wants to be introduced to your contact (let's call her Beth). Now, you have to make sure Beth is on board. Ask Amy for a short blurb about herself that you can include when you reach out to Beth.

    Write a personalized note to Beth (without including Amy), and ask her if she'd be open to an introduction. Strive to introduce people who will mutually benefit from knowing each other.
  2. Once Beth is on board, introduce Amy and Beth in the same email
  3. Amy should respond promptly, thank you, and move you to BCC

    Moving the person who made the introduction (you) to BCC will make sure you see the first reply, thus ensuring that the introduction was made. You will then be taken off the chain after the initial email so Amy and Beth are not filling up your inbox with emails you don’t need to be copied on.
  4. After Amy and Beth do their own thing, Amy should follow up with you!

    As the requestor, always circle back to thank the connector. Help him/her close the loop and report back. If it went really well, send a gift or some type of thanks.

Q: I'm writing an intro email to someone I've never met before. What's appropriate? What's not?

A: If people size you up in just 3 seconds (in real life), people likely size you up in just 3 sentences in digital life.

  1. Send your intro email

    Make sure it is polite (always err on the side of being too formal rather than too casual), concise, and a specific 'call to action'.

    It's important to include a 'call to action' because people are busy. What is it that you want from them? A call? A lunch on you? To come speak at your school? Don't be subtle or implicit. Here's a template to get you started:

    Dear [first name],

    My name is [your name], and I’m a [job title] who works in [your location]. I’m reaching out because [reason why you want to speak with this person]. I’d love to learn more about [two or three things you’d like to learn from the person]. Would you be able to jump on a quick call sometime this week or next?

    No worries if you are unable to for any reason. I understand now is a busy time of year [give the person an easy 'out' to decline you].

    Thanks so much,
    [Your name]


  2. Once you get a reply, make sure you (the requester) reply promptly and try your best to meet their schedule!

  3. Do ya thing - phone call, lunch, whatever

  4. Follow up with a thank you note by email

Q: I got someone's business card! how do I ask them about a job?!

A: Woah! Woah! Woah! Slow down! Don’t ask for a job… Ask for information.

Networking is not about asking everyone you know for a job. As a matter of fact, when you network you should never ask someone for a job. You ask them for information that will help you in your search. Your goal is to build a relationship and establish rapport so that if a potential opportunity becomes available in the future, your contact will want to refer you.

Compare these two scenarios:

Scenario One
“Joe, it was great to meet you last week! Do you know of any open positions in your department?”
You’ve put Joe in a very difficult position. Sure, he can sympathize with your situation, but he may not be able to offer you a job. Perhaps he’s not in a position to refer you, or there’s a hiring freeze, or there aren’t any openings right now. Whatever answer Joe gives you, it’s bound to be disappointing.
So to redeem himself, Joe says, “I don’t know of any open positions, but why don’t you give me your resume and I’ll send it to HR.” Bad move. Unless your skills match a specific opening in the company at that point in time, your resume is bound to never be looked at. Joe will feel that he’s done what he can for you, but you will be no better off.


Scenario Two
“Joe, as you know, I most recently worked for a real estate development company in its marketing group. I know that you’ve been in marketing and brokerage for the past 15 years, in both commercial and residential real estate. I’m very interested in learning more about marketing roles in your company. I would appreciate the opportunity to speak with you briefly to learn more about your organization and the commercial real estate industry in general.”
Joe may think, "OK, here’s a friend that wants some information and sees me as some sort of expert on the topic. That’s kind of flattering. I guess I could spend a few minutes with him."
Does Joe know you’re looking for a job? Probably. But you are not asking him for a job; you’re just asking him for advice and insight. The stakes are low, and the expectations are reasonable, so he is more likely to help you.

Further Reading