When you help someone by connecting them via an e-mail introduction, follow these three basic rules:
1. Be clear and up front about your motive. If both parties have something to gain from the introduction, say so. But if the benefit is only one-directional, be transparent about it. Honesty goes a long way toward getting people to take your introductions seriously.
2. Don’t copy all parties unless you are 100% positive the recipient will be open to the introduction. Send the e-mail with your request and include the other person’s contact information. Then forward your message to the person you’re introducing, so he knows the wheels are in motion. Promise to keep that individual posted as soon as you hear back.
3. Give the recipient an “out.” Jodi Glickman, a workplace consultant and guest blogger for Harvard Business Review, says she always gives people the option of opting out of “whatever favor I request, no questions asked. It is the generous and polite thing to do.”
By doing so, you actually have a better chance of getting the favor you want because people won’t feel forced into it, she says.
Glickman offers this example:
Hello, and I hope you’re doing well. I wanted to reach out to introduce you to Robyn, a former colleague of mine. Robyn is designing a product for high-net-worth individuals that may be of interest to you and your clients. She is hoping to speak with some people in the industry with knowledge of that client base and I thought you could be helpful. (motive)
If you are interested and able, I think you two would have a great conversation and I imagine you’d have an interesting perspective on the most useful and compelling forms this product might take. Robyn’s bio can be found here and her contact details are below.
If you don’t have the time or inclination, I completely understand and I will politely decline for you; I have not copied her on this e-mail for that very reason. (opt out)
— Adapted from “Be an Effective Gatekeeper (or, How to Keep Out the Riff-Raff),” Jodi Glickman, Harvard Business Review blog.