Email Etiquette: How to Handle Introductions

Computer Monitor screen, concept of email

By Rebecca Healy

We all know connections and networking are the key to a good career, and increasingly, email is your first and only chance to make a good impression. Here are three tips to make the most of an email introduction:

1. Avoid "Reply All." When you are introduced over email, there will usually be three email addresses on the communication chain: yours, the email of your friend or colleague who is making the introduction and that of the new contact. When you are replying to the introduction, do not hit "Reply All." Instead, move the email address of your friend or colleague to the Bcc field and the email of the new contact to the To field. In the text field, type something like:

Thanks, Rebecca! (Moved to Bcc)

Great to meet you, Jack ...

The person making the introduction (in this case, Rebecca) does not need to be included on future email communications between you and your new contact (in this case, Jack). But it is still polite and correct to confirm that you did respond to the introduction. Moving the introducer's email to the Bcc field covers both basis.

2. Be timely, polite and direct. After an introduction has been made, make sure you follow through and that you are on your best behavior. This means being timely, polite and direct in your response. Whether the introduction has been made as a potential client, a potential mentor or just someone to grab coffee with, this new contact is not someone you met at a party and can blow off. The manner in which you respond to an email introduction is not only a reflection on yourself, but a reflection on the introducer. The introducer is putting his or her reputation on the line by offering his or her network to you, so it's important to represent your best self. Continue your message to the new contact with something like:

... I have heard great things about your product/company, and I look forward to connecting. My job/company/idea is ... I'd love to jump on a call and discuss ...

Here are three dates and times:
Dec. 4, 2 p.m. - 5 p.m.
Dec. 5, 10 a.m. - 12 p.m.
Dec. 8, 2 p.m. - 5 p.m.

Let me know what works, and I'll send over a calendar invitation.

Thanks so much.

This is a good way to respond for a few reasons. For one, you're showing respect and enthusiasm toward the new contact. You're also providing brief background about yourself. Plus, you've taken on the onus of scheduling. Try not to use a scheduling tool in this case, since it puts the onus of scheduling on the new contact even though you're the one requesting a call.

3. Follow up with the introducer. Not only should you follow up in a timely, polite and direct manner with the new contact, but you should also take the time to follow up with the introducer. It's not enough to do a quick "thank you" in your initial response. Go the extra mile by checking in with the introducer again and after you've met with the new contact. Whether you received great advice, met for coffee or made a sale, the introducer should know how things went. Try this:

Hi Rebecca,

I just got off the phone with Jack, and wanted to follow up. It went great! I enjoyed speaking with him, and he gave me some great advice about how to ...

Thanks again for making the introduction. Please let me know if I can return the favor sometime.

Closing the loop will ensure your friend or colleague continues to open up his or her network. This strategy allows you to earn trust so that the introducer is increasingly comfortable making higher-profile introductions. Before you know it, with proper email etiquette, you'll no longer be on the requesting end of email introductions; you'll be on the receiving end of one yourself!

Rebecca Healy is the founder of Kontrary, a different take on money and happiness that helps you take control of your work and life. She lives in Washington, DC.