A Tactical Guide to Asking for an Introduction

Stacey Ferreira
Jul 13, 2017 · 4 min read

Contrary to popular belief, there is a right and wrong way to ask for an introduction that may either get you the intro or not.

Photo Credit: Girl Geek Dinners

Asking your Second Connection For An Intro

If you’re asking me for an introduction, you know me well enough to have my cell phone number, email address or are connected with me on Facebook or LinkedIn. Any of these mediums are fair game asking for an introduction to someone (with text and email being the easiest to get a fast response).

When you’re asking for an introduction, skip the pleasantries. Asking me over text or Facebook “how is everything going?” only to make an ask is the wrong approach for me. I’m busy and you’re busy. I would love to catch up with you in person, but, I use my phone enough for work. Because of that I’m not super keen on having a two hour long conversation with you over Facebook messenger only to be asked for something that could have been asked for within the first message.

Chances are, at the the point of the ask, I either know you well enough to be willing to put my reputation on the line to make that introduction — or I don’t. A back-and-forth Facebook message or text won’t change that.

The Right Message

“Hey Stacey, I saw you were connected to so-and-so on [LINKEDIN/FACEBOOK]. Mind making an introduction so I can [insert 50 character message here]?”

Short, sweet, I can read it and respond in 30 seconds. If you send anything longer, I’ll likely not read it until I have a large chunk of time (like a weekend).

At that point, I’ll be up front and have one of four responses.

  1. Sure thing! Mind shooting me an email blurb about you and why you’re looking for the intro? —This really means: Yes, I know them and will make the introduction. Please make it easy for me and send a forward-able email so I can simply attach a short personalized message saying that I vouch for you and they should take the meeting.
  2. Hey! Mind sending me some more info on why you’re looking to get introduced to my email? — This really means: I’m going to be putting my reputation on the line, so I want to be able to screen what ask you’re going to make before I make the introduction. I typically use this if I don’t know you super well or if you’re my best friend and asking for an introduction to people like Elon Musk or Richard Branson.
  3. I don’t know them, sorry about that, but if there is anyone else you’re looking for an intro to, let me know! —This really means: I don’t know them, but feel free to search through my LinkedIn and I’ll try to intro you to anyone else I’m connected to.
  4. I don’t know them, sorry! — This really means: I don’t know them and I don’t really have time to make introductions right now, which is why I’m not offering to make more (but feel free to ask back in a month).

How to Send a Forward-able Email

In sending a forward-able email, the key is to make it short, semi-formal and informative. Write a full email addressed to me. If I have to copy and paste a paragraph and write sentences to help the person I’m introducing you to understand the context, the intro likely won’t happen. It needs to be forward-able.

In the email you want to:

  • establish that you and I know each other fairly well (you’re not just some random person asking for an introduction)
  • give a brief background on who you are and what you do
  • give a brief background on why you want to meet so-and-so

The preferred method for me would be something like this (the same format I use to ask for intros):

Follow Up With Me

Things, inevitably, fall through the cracks — especially if you’re asking for 2+ introductions. So don’t be afraid to follow up and ask me about the responses. Again, keep it short and sweet.

This works best:

credit: Michael Costigan, EC

Lastly, keep me up-to-date on what happened from the introduction. Did you get an investment from it? Did you land a job? Did you make a new best friend? I want to know that the person I introduced you to was either helpful or wasn’t so I know if I should pass more people their way.

Note: All of this is my own personal experience and these views are my own. If you disagree, feel free to let me know! @staceyferreira

Essential Capital

EC is the Human Progress Fund. We invest in early stage startups with a mission to fight humanity’s biggest challenges and ignite the transformation of society.

Stacey Ferreira

Written by

CEO & Co-Founder at Forge. Thiel Fellow 2015. U.S. State Department Speaker. Co-Author of 2 Billion Under 20.

Essential Capital

EC is the Human Progress Fund. We invest in early stage startups with a mission to fight humanity’s biggest challenges and ignite the transformation of society.