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 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.



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:


My friend Jack runs, 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.



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.

  • @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.

  • Anand Sanwal


    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 Sanwal


    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”.


  • 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 :-)

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Anand Sanwal

    Thanks Ashley.

  • 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, – 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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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  • Melissa G Wilson

    Remember when Gladwell talked about Mavens, Salespeople and Connectors in “The Tipping Point”? This is a great example of people who hold all three of these skills. First, they are mavens who hold the wisdom of discernment to know that a good connection is one where the introducer has taken the time to set up the important reason to connect. Second, they are salespeople. They don’t just connect two people, they “passionately and purposefully” connect two people together. I call myself The Great Promoter as this is something I have worked at over the last two decades. It matters to me to do it well and to do it often. It also gives context to “how” I connect. Third, these people are connectors. They love to introduce people to others.

    I see these introductions to others as important as my relationship building with the people I am connecting to one another. Just as you only get one chance to create a good impression, I believe you only get one chance to create a good introduction.

  • Melissa G Wilson

    Great to see this happening out there!

  • CB Insights

    “I believe you only get one chance to create a good introduction.”


  • Glen Burchers

    When we went through the Techstars incubator, they required the double opt-in. It keeps their mentors from being overwhelmed.

  • Lawrence Sinclair

    Such double opt in introductions are a waste of everyone’s time. If you don’t have the fortitude or self confidence to write “maybe later” or the resources to forward to someone who has more time to vet the matter, then those are the problems you need to solve first. Maybe if you are a business celebrity and can expect others to Cow Tow to the value of your time you can get away with expecting such introductions. But you may pay a price for it in terms of missed opportunities. When dealing with peers, or when you simply respect the people you correspond with, asking them to bend over backwards to justify and manage introductions for you is just rude and arrogant.

  • Mike Hampton

    Found this via Quartz via the Atlantic’s Facebook feed. Good on you for getting them to run an year-old article. Still relevant.

    Your advice is great if someone is just being a busybody and introducing two random people from their network.

    But in reality, the situation usually goes like this: Jack has asked Joe to introduce him to Mary. Jack and Joe are either good friends, in an existing business relationship, or both.

    If Joe uses the double blind and Mary says “no” either he is going to look like a jerk or she is, depending on Jack’s reaction: he’s either going to think that Joe didn’t sell him hard enough or that Joe doesn’t really know Mary as well as he implied or that Mary is a jerk who thinks she’s too high and mighty to meet up with someone her friend Joe highly recommended.

    Even in the double blind situation, Mary can’t win. If she tells Joe she’s not interested in meeting his friend, he’s going to be pissed off at her, thinking that if the shoe were on the other foot, he’d go through with the meeting as a favor to Mary.

    That seems to be the part of the equation you are forgetting about: the human side. I’ve taken many meetings as a favor to the Joes of the world because I get that Joe will look good if I do and because one day I’ll need him to return the favor.

  • Ben Thoma

    I think I’m in agreement with Mike: especially in his last statement…

    “That seems to be the part of the equation you are forgetting about: the human side. I’ve taken many meetings as a favor to the Joes of the world because I get that Joe will look good if I do and because one day I’ll need him to return the favor.”

    Imagine this was an in-person situation. You wouldn’t necessarily go up to your friend/acquaintance and ask if you can introduce them to someone in the room first. It’s ridiculous—you are both adults and if there’s no interesting conversation to be had, you both go your separate ways.

    To me, this sounds like a solution for those people who are fortunate enough to be popular and don’t have a great system of managing their email/inbox (a totally bigger/different problem than email introductions alone). This shouldn’t prevent you from the greatest potential of all: collaborating with other people.

    I say, use your informed, human judgement to make introductions that make sense, and learn if the intro was useful to the parties involved. How can people really decide if an intro is worth-while until they meet the other person?

  • Roger_Black

    Also catching up with this via Quartz. Great points about respect. Would mention the that simple names as salutation and signature are enough.

    Only quibble, the phrase “no worries” at the end. That’s a double negative. It has a bit of friction, like “no problem.” Better to say, “If you have the time for for an introduction, let me know by e-mail. I’d appreciate it.”

  • Garrett Dunham

    Hear hear! I agree wholeheartedly.

    Let me add another trick I’ve found that I LOVE: the “forwardable email”

    Here’s the process in action:
    Asker – Hey ___, I saw you were connected to {person} on linkedin. Do you know them well enough to forward an email? {reason why they’d like to connect}. If you’re willing, I’ll send another email you can pass along.
    Connector – sure

    Then the asker sends a new email with a subject line and content they choose and writing to the connector as the “recipient”. Email contains a little more context than the reasons asker wanted to connect but is entirely meant to be read by the person it’ll be forwarded to.

    Connector hits “forward”, writes a very brief endorsement and “see below”, then passes it along.

    It works well for the asker and works GREAT for the connector. Benefits of single opt-in (privacy for “Mary”) with more control for the asker and FAR easier for the connector.

    As a constant connector, I won’t make intros unless friends send a forwardable email now.

  • John Stepper

    Extremely useful (and funny and well-written to boot). I’ve started doing intros this way and have shared it with my network. Thanks very much.

  • Jon Bidwell

    John Stepper was kind enough to reference in his blog post this morning. Unless someone knows a trick of physics, I’m not aware, respecting the absolute value of time is the best thing you can do in a network.

  • Irene Johansen

    And here I am always looking for the efficient way to do things. But strictly time-efficient, as you say (for me) is not necessarily the best way – lots is missed. GREAT LESSON! Thanks!

  • Neeraj Shukla

    Really insightful post! The aspects are simple to understand but to come up with this requires a bit of genius. Not getting any or my friends married any more.

  • EnochElwell

    Great reminder to be thinking of how all parties involved feel in the interaction, but I disagree that single opt in is bad and double is good. The other factor left out here is the strength of relationship between the connecter and the other parties, and the level of effort needed to compensate for the level of trust that exists. For example, I regularly make connections with emails saying little more than “You guys need to talk about X”, but that only works when both parties trust me to know that I’m sending them something mutually beneficial. For others who know me less or are more suspicious people, I’ll have the asker do the work to write their own intro and forward it on so the one being asked can choose their response. I’d only do a double opt in for a very personally important connection I was making where I was stretching the ask.

    For those who are regularly asked to make connections for others, it is just not feasible to do a double opt in for every intro. If that were the case, the intros just wouldn’t happen, which I believe is the worst option.

    That being said, I think it is a great thing to remind us all about being respectful of others as intros are being made. Thanks for that!

  • Eric W

    Wow this is really good. To quote a truism from another century, “if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right”.

  • Daniel Mumby

    Like Melissa (below), I pride myself on my ability to connect people to create new value for both. And after almost a decade of doing it, it is as easily as “drawing lines between dots”. However, sometimes it takes a little while for the ‘dots’ to also recognize the lines, so the double-optin method is both respectful of others, and more likely to lead to successful outcomes. Thanks for detailing the steps involved.

  • Mark How

    Sometimes when you are looking at a VCs site, it isn’t perfectly clear which partner is optimal for you talk to. We sometimes spam the associates directly (when they post their email addies) to just reduce noise and ensure you’re not wasting everyones’ time (multiple VCs, your pal’s who can intro & your own).


  • TyDanco

    Yes! I always find myself resenting people who intro without asking first, even if their intentions are the best. Thanks for writing, I am retweeting and retweeting.

  • TyDanco

    Dead wrong. The busier the person being asked to meet someone, the more important this is. Not meaning to troll or bait, but I’ll take every intro when I’m not busy, but very few when I am. And I don’t want to be put in the position by someone else to be the bad guy and have to say “No, you aren’t worth it to me” when they aren’t.

  • Andy Charman

    Horses for courses.
    I know some very busy and very influential individuals who would agonise about not being able to respond to an introduction simply because they don’t have time. And if I put them in that situation often they would start to resent it. Then again I also know individuals who would fly off the handle at the thought of having to read TWO emails where one would do (they’d get all moany about having to bend-over backwards etc etc) .
    So this is neither right nor wrong. The best of people will know when to use one approach and when to use the other.

  • Andy Charman

    Anand, thanks for posting this. It is one of those knitty little details of professional life, and yet it is so important. I’m grateful that you post it because for ages I have felt puritanical and excessive in writing the two emails or checking first before making introductions whereas most if the introductions I receive are single-gate entries. Of course I knew that I was right all along, in the face of opposing views from the rest of the world, but seeing you broadcast the issue with conviction is gratifying. Ipso facto, I am grateful.

  • Patrick Lui

    Good advice!

  • Gr8Dad

    What a wimp.

    Disagree with your catagorization as lazy and disrespecful. I’d catagorize the double blind approach to a simple introduction as excessively pedantic with a tad too much of the sychophant. I make introductions all the time with the single opt-in approach, and I am neither. I feel comfortable doing this because I vet the connection to some fairly high standards before making it.

    Anyone making an introduction should pre-screen that introduction based on the belief that Mary will be interested. Granted, that is in your judgement, but Mary trusts you (or should – if you have a connection). If you do not have a close enough relationship with Mary that you can make that judgement and impose on her for 30 seconds, you do not have a close enough relationship to make the introduction. That’s a much bigger faux pas as it presumes a connection which is really not there.
    Mary owes you those few minutes it might take for two or three responses to get to the point where she politely lets everyone know she is not interested. If she does not owe you those few minutes, you shouldn’t be bothering her in the first place. And Mary owes you those few minutes precisely because she has some form of relationship with you that entitles people to expect a certain level of consideration.

    Don’t worry. With very (and I do mean very) few exceptions (a la President Obama or Jeff Bezos), Mary’s time is not worth so much that she cannot spare you the few minutes to respond to this inquiry.

    Unless of course you really don’t know Mary :)

  • Eric W

    This is a great post. It definitely needed to be written because I see what I call “The sloppy Joe Intro” a lot more than the double opt in. Well done and thanks for making the world a better place one intro at a time.

  • Cambridge_Butch

    This is great. I often do the proper way but admit guilt to sometimes taking the lazy way out. I’ll always use the double opt-in from now on.

  • Michael Bast

    I would also use this with phone numbers. A lot of emails have a “signature card” with a phone number. In or outside of email asking one party if it’s ok to give out their number is important to me. I never do it.
    Let’s face it, email and social media is a way to bridge the gap from a virtual meeting to a phone call or in person introduction.
    Respect the privacy of others, and you aren’t putting anyone in an awkward position.

  • dave hochman™ ‏

    I’ve been waiting 3 years now for an “Uber for granite countertops” to launch