Single opt-in intros are lazy and disrespectful and make you a terrible person. Good people do double opt-in intros.

Post by Anand Sanwal (@asanwal) — CEO/Co-founder/Customer Service at CB Insights

If you are introducing two people without using a double opt-in intro, you have a high likelihood of being a terrible person.  Yup – I said it.

First, what’s a single opt-in intro?

Very simply, a single opt-in intro is where you are introduced to someone via email without them giving you a heads up prior and getting your consent to make the intro.

Let me explain using an example.  In this example, Joe wants to introduce Jack to his friend Mary.

He sends an email to Mary and cc: Jack.

Hey Mary,

Wanted to introduce you to Jack (cc’d) who runs Gruber.com an “Uber for granite countertops”. They’re killing it and are really disrupting the granite space. They’re also making the world a better place.

Think you guys are doing similar things, tackling similar problems, etc. so you should chat.

I’ll leave it to you to connect.

Hope all is well.

Best,

Joe

This is a terrible introduction for a few reasons:

  • No respect for time – The email which takes Joe 30 seconds to write commits Mary’s time.  Mary is supposed to get coffee or hop on the phone with Jack because Joe thinks it would be a good idea.  Sure.
  • No context – Bullet 1 is the big problem.  The 2nd problem is that there is no context.  It’s vague & general and just plain lazy.  Mary has to go look up Jack and see if he really is doing something that is interesting.
  • Makes both Mary and Joe look bad – If Mary ignores the email and doesn’t connect with Jack, she looks like a jerk.  At the same time, Joe also looks stupid.  Mission not accomplished.

Do not do this to people. Especially those you like.

 

Use the double opt-in introduction

A double opt-in introduction is the nice, non-lazy, respectful way to introduce people and not be viewed as a terrible person. Here is what you should do:

Mary,

My friend Jack runs Gruber.com, an Uber for granite countertops. They are doing things with data visualizations in d3.js which are pretty amazing.

Given all that your company is doing with d3.js, I thought connecting you might be useful so you can talk shop. In addition, Jack has found a really good way to source talented d3.js developers and I know this was a pain point for you.

He’d love to chat with you about your content marketing success and how he might apply it to the granite countertop industry.

Let me know if an introduction via email would be useful, and I’ll make that happen.  If not or just too busy, no worries.

We should catch up soon.

Best,

Joe

On this email, Jack is not cc’d.

Why this email is awesome:

  • Joe is providing context on why Jack might be interesting.  It shows he is not just throwing some slop over the fence for Mary to deal with. Instead, Joe has spent time figuring out why Mary and Jack should connect in a way that would be mutually beneficial.
  • Joe is letting Mary opt-in. She is not under any pressure to accept and offers a nice, no worries out if she is busy, uninterested, etc.

If you want to make introductions between two folks, learn the way of the double opt-in. You will be a better person as a result.

  • Isaac

    Well said, sir. Thank you for putting in the time to think through the issue in order to present it in a way that nicely balances utility with brevity and delivers with a dose of entertainment/personality. Great stuff! I will certainly remember to use the double opt-in intro when facilitating introductions.

  • http://nicklafond.me @thinkB1G

    I’ve been guilty of the single-opt-intro before, but more often on the other end. I dislike these requests flooding my inbox, especially during particularly busy weeks (aren’t they all?!). As a former habitual over-commiter, I recognize that saying “No” to most opportunities is the only way to stay focused. It’s nice to be able to say no in the beginning, or worse, neglecting to follow up and seeming like a jerk.

    Thanks, Anand! Hope you’re doing well.

  • http://www.4044walnut.com Anand Sanwal

    Isaac,

    Glad you like the post. And glad to hear you’re a convert to double opt-in intros. You’ve made the lives of people you’re introducing better as a result :)

    Thanks for reading!

    Anand

  • http://www.4044walnut.com Anand Sanwal

    Nick,

    Thanks for the comment and for reading. If everyone followed double opt-in etiquette, there’d be less introductions as they require more work for the “introducer”.

    Best,
    Anand

  • Ashley

    Thank you for a great introduction to email introduction etiquette. Having been on the receiving end of such emails many times, I am glad to see someone put in the time and talent to explain the proper way of doing things. I will direct future offenders to you blog :-)

  • http://wowisme.net/ Adryenn Ashley

    My intro’s are like your doubles, but they are to both parties, with the same detail given about and to each person, why I adore them both, and why they have to meet! I never make a bad introduction. When I do make an intro, it’s always gold, my contacts know it, and instantly connect (for all the reasons I give and the many more I see that they trust are there). If you build a reputation of excellence, your contacts will value your intro’s. Never be lazy, always be intentional, and respect peoples time.

  • http://www.4044walnut.com Anand Sanwal

    Adryenn – that’s living dangerously :)

    Be intentional and respect people’s time – amen. I still think double opt-in is the safest, most respectful way to go. It takes out the judgment call aspect.

  • http://www.4044walnut.com Anand Sanwal

    Thanks Ashley.

  • http://QuotaDeck.com Bubba Page

    This is simply the clearest way I have heard this said. I am going through the Techstars program here in Boulder and luckily they train all of us founders to do the same. I have noticed, that as I am building my startup, http://QuotaDeck.com – a marketplace for b2b warm intros — that this philosophy is exactly what we are trying to teach our users. I am going to share this with all of them! Thanks

  • Bruce Rosard

    This IS good

  • http://www.4044walnut.com Anand Sanwal

    Yes – very true. I think context on why an intro makes sense is always a good thing.

  • Jeff Eskow

    Don makes a good point. You wasted your OWN time as well as one of your 2 contacts if you wait for both parties to tell YOU it’s ok to meet.

    In today’s day and age, the entire Business Universe knows the value of networking.
    If Mary chooses not to contact Joe, it’s her loss…and While Joe may feel “funny” he WILL get over it quickly.

  • http://www.4044walnut.com Anand Sanwal

    Don – you manage expectations on both sides. I just tell folks I’m going to make sure they’re ok with the intro before I make it. Never had anyone get their panties in a bunch as a result.

  • http://www.4044walnut.com Anand Sanwal

    Jeff – Thx for reading.

    Networking is only valuable if with the right folks. And I def don’t want to waste the time of folks in my network with intros they feel are useless and which force them to take meetings they don’t want.

  • http://www.asecondopinion.nl Thees Peereboom

    This is most certainly not the way I would handle things. I would email Mary and not mention Jack’s name, just describe his activities and would ask she’d be willing to connect. If Mary would agree I would email Jack and describe Mary’s activities and ask him if he’d be willing to connect. After getting his permission too I would introduce both to eachother.

  • CB Insights

    Hi there. Thanks for reading and for the comment.

    Think we’re violently agreeing here. Think you’re using the same approach but just not providing the name but otherwise, it’s the same thing. Anonymizing the emails seems counterproductive to be honest in case they want to research on their own and just would appear strange to whoever you’re introducing. “I have this great guy whose name I can’t tell you. He does X, Y and Z”. Weird no?

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