How to get an effective email introduction

Boulder TechStar Company Conspire has some ideas for you. 

Alex Devkar, CEO

A well-executed introduction to whoever you want to meet—a potential customer, employer, employee or investor—can be the difference between success and failure. Here are the most important points to remember.

Give your friend an email she can forward. When you ask for an intro, remember that you’re asking your friend for a favor. Make it easy on her. Your friend should be able to forward your message on to your target without doing any work. If you do it right, she can do this from her phone.

In order to make this possible, your email needs to be self-contained. Your friend may know everything about you, but your target does not. Describe who you are and why you want to meet.

Keep it short. Busy people are drowning in email. You show respect for everyone’s time and have a better chance of success by getting to the point quickly.

From: Alex Founder
To: Diana Friend
Subject: Intro to John Investor

Hi Diana,

As you know, we’re raising a seed round and would love to talk to John Investor. Could you put us in touch? A brief description of what we do is at the bottom of this email.



My company (ExcitingCo) improves corporate wikis by letting employees pull important content out of email and into the appropriate wiki with one click. We ran a private beta with 100 companies over the last 3 months. We just opened it up to the public and are signing up paying customers now.

Diana can then forward it on with a recommendation.

From: Diana Friend
To: John Investor
Cc: Alex Founder
Subject: Fwd: Intro to John Investor

John, please meet my friend Alex. His company is doing exciting things. I think you’ll be very interested.

Sent from my mobile device

On Mar 28, 2014, at 10:42 PM, Alex Founder wrote:

This is a great start to the introduction, but your work isn’t done.

Follow up immediately. As soon as your friend connects you to your target, you should follow up. It is your responsibility to drive the process. Thank your friend for making the intro and move her to bcc, so she doesn’t get spammed with the scheduling details.

Make a clear ask. Don’t make the next step for your target ambiguous by saying something like: “Let me know what you think.” Be direct.

From: Alex Founder
To: John Investor
Bcc: Diana Friend
Subject: Intro to John Investor

Thanks, Diana! (to bcc)

John, great to meet you. Do you have availability for a 10 minute call next week? I’ll work around your schedule.

On Mar 28, 2014, at 10:42 PM, Diana Friend wrote:

Always be respectful, responsive and prepared. No matter what happens with your target, remain professional. Your friend vouched for you by making the introduction. You’re trading on her reputation as well as yours.

The multi-step dance Alex Founder went through above won’t fit every situation, but the tips will help you get effective introductions. If you want to know who the best person in your network to ask for an intro is, check out Conspire.

Why You Should Pitch Like A Woman

The first week I went to the dark side and chose to sell advertising rather than buy it, a friend had me watch Glengary Glen Ross. Check out the video below where Alec Baldwin assumes fear is the best source of inspiration. He is awful. Needless to say, I spent the next month freaking out not knowing what I had gotten myself into. This is why so many of us fear sales. We don't want to be perceived as ruthless and cutthroat. The thing is, for any entrepreneur, the most important skill they can have is their ability to sell... and there are ways to sell that feel more like serving. And they work.

There are so many latest and greatest ways to pitch. However, I was curious to see if there were new less male (dominate the meeting, own the frame, show your power) ways of selling.  SPIN Selling explains the science behind consultative selling. Pitch Anything explains how to use influence, the right messaging that lands and setting and holding the frame. I'll explain all of these at a later date and how to incorporate different elements into your close.

Tim Fereiss's  Always Be Closing: Y Combinator and The Art of the Pitch is also a great article that touches on many of the things that work and don't and it's specific to the startup experience. 

And, it looks like there really is a case for being more lady like or let's just say considerate when it comes to sales. 

A recent Harvard Business Review article, How Women Decide by Cathy Benko, vice chairman and a managing principal at Deloitte LLP and Bill Pelster, former chief learning officer and a principal at Deloitte Consulting,  shows the benefits of letting go of the dominate or die psychology of sales.  Instead, they focus on utilizing the behaviors that are innate for women. As more and more women become the decision makers, it's best to model the way they show up and present in a way that they're more likely to receive.

Here's what they found, "We also learned that women see a big meeting with a potential service provider as a chance to explore options in collaboration with an expert resource, while men see that event as a near-final step in the process, when they are narrowing down and choosing among options."

"When presenting to men, we find that they look for holes or weaknesses in our arguments. Again, it’s part of the winnowing process. But women continually seek a creative solution—listening for ideas, adjusting their understanding of what is important, and asking for relevant details."

So today, while interacting with prospective clients, we know to keep asking ourselves, “What’s the deciding factor?” And we make this explicit in our presentations. “We understand you are on a journey to find the best partner,” we tell prospects, “and we recognize that your perspective will evolve as you speak with us and our competitors.”

Our world is becoming more collaborative and the sales process can and should feel like the first step in creating a shared story. Always Be Closing does work. Always be a valued partner works best.