I’ve noticed a trend recently in which I am receiving more and more email or virtual introductions from friends, colleagues, and acquaintances. Since I’m in the sales business, I rarely turn down an opportunity to speak to a new or prospective customer. When it’s a personal, or non-sales related introduction, I would prefer to “opt in” to the invitation. Let me explain…
Virtual introduction is typically when a mutual friend or colleague sends an email introducing me to someone I don’t know. This new person is generally copied on the introductory email, so they have all my contact information and are aware that a connection has been forged. These unsolicited introductions can put me in an awkward position if I don’t want to pursue the relationship or opportunity. I generally end up replying along the lines of “I’m not interested right now” or “I’m booked for the next X weeks, so please follow up with me after that date”. Not responding to the message is rarely an option for me, as I believe we should respond to everyone who reaches out to us.
An “opt in” introduction is simply sending a private message to the party providing a little context about the person, outlining why you feel it’s a good idea to connect us, and offering some background information. This gives me the opportunity to bow out gracefully if feel that the introduction isn’t a good fit or it’s not the right time or pursue the connection. You have done your job by forwarding the relevant information, and have left the ball in my court. If I feel like the connection is worthwhile, I can either connect with the person myself, or give you the “OK” to facilitate the introduction.
Here’s a sample of an email introduction I facilitated between two colleagues. I sent this after the interested parties agreed to pursue the connection:
I feel the double “opt in” introduction is more professional and more respectful of your colleagues, and is a more effective tool in the long run.