I think we can all agree that at the core of business is networking, trust, and relationships. In order to get there, to build those relationships, sooner or later, you are going to want someone in your network to make an introduction for you.
Whether you are applying for a job and want your friend to introduce you to the CEO directly or you are looking to conduct some business development and you need an in at the company with which you want to collaborate, we all depend on introductions throughout our professional lives.
If you find yourself on the receiving end and want to ask someone for a business intro, it is crucial that you put aside your own needs for a second, and think of that person's needs, workflow, and time.
Here are three guidelines to asking for a business intro in the most effective and efficient manner:
Write the intro for them, don't make them do the work.
So here is the basic process you should follow. Imagine you need me to introduce you to a venture capitalist because you are raising money for your startup. Don't send me a list of 30 names to whom you want intros. You expect me to take that list and draft 30 emails for you? I like you, but not that much.
Write me an email, a self contained email that I can easily forward to that investor and if I am so inclined, I can add my one line on top putting in a good word. Allow me to click forward and ask the person if they are okay with taking the intro.
Of course, in addition to asking for the intro in the body of the email, include any and all information you want that person to see. In the case of an investor, maybe one line about the company and an investor deck as an attachment.
The email should be clear and concise and should say something along the lines of "Hi Hillel, I know you are close with the team at Andreessen, I would love the opportunity to get on their radar. Here is what my company does and my deck is attached. Thank you for your help."
Less is more. "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication."
Personalize the content of your email so there is more incentive to take the intro.
Remember what I plan on doing with your email. I plan on forwarding it. Don't send a generic email asking for an intro to anyone relevant, that won't exactly make the person to whom you want an intro feel special or unique. Write a separate email for each introduction you want with the name of the person or at least the company. If you want to increase the chances of them agreeing to take the intro, add a line or two of why you want to connect with them specifically and how important this relationship is to you.
"Hi Hillel, I know you are close with the team at Google. I would love the opportunity to have a cup of coffee with David because his work in the world of Artificial Intelligence is something that would be invaluable to me and my team. May I ask you to intro?"
The subject line is key because it might be all the person actually sees.
The subject of the email asking for the intro is crucial and it should not be "Intro request" but rather "Intro to Michelle" or something similar.
You might consider adding in the name of your company and the purpose of the intro but either way, when I forward your email to my contact asking her if she is okay with me making that intro, the first thing she should see in the subject is her name and how you really want to meet her.
Much of this should be common sense, but we all know how common that is today. When communicating in a business context, always consider the needs of the recipient of your message over your own.