How to introduce two people so that they both benefit
Intros are a science. Making introductions the right way will massively increase utility between two people. And doing it the wrong way can make one of the parties look bad or alienate one or both parties from you.
The following few paragraphs will take you through the best way to make an email introduction between two people. Before we go through the mechanics, let’s first define the objectives. As the introducer, your objective should be that you benefit both people you are introducing. If it can only benefit one of the parties, you should not even bother. At the end of the meeting, both parties should be happy you made the introduction, glad they met the other person, and thankful to you.
First, before you start, take your time. Good introductions take time. If done hastily, their impact will be minimal. Take the time to really think why both parties will benefit from each other and spell it out in an email. I’m sure we’ve all been victims of hastily written email intros (I recently got one that said "Auren/John – you two just HAVE to meet each other. You two take it from here.")
A good way to go about it is to first email the more well-known person and ask for permission. Make the case of why they should meet the other dude and ask them if it would be ok for you to introduce the two of you. Usually it will work well but occasionally someone will say that they are too busy. If that’s the case, you just saved both friends a lot of trouble. You never want to make an introduction where both parties don’t immediately respond to each other ... that will make you look really bad. When you email people, you want to make sure that the weight of your email encourages both people to quickly arrange a time to talk.
Take the time of each person into account. Suggest whether they should meet for lunch, coffee, over the phone, or just exchange emails. Often people should just have a quick phone call and you don’t want to waste the time of one or both people by suggesting a lunch. Be clear in your email introduction what the next action should be.
Rarely introduce your friend to someone just because your friend wants to meet her. There needs to be an exchange of value between the two people ... they both need to come away with getting more value than their time is worth. Proactively suggest who they might want to meet.
Clearly give the location of each person. If one person is in LA and the other is in NY, let them know. Maybe they are going to be in the same city in two weeks and they can meet in person. Or maybe they are going to arrange a call and they will now know what time zone they are in.
Be sure to give their first and last name and a quick bio of the person. I often get intros from people to firstname.lastname@example.org – so I know the first name of the person is “Jim” but don’t know their last name and it makes it difficult to save the person’s contact information. And a quick bio will go a long way in giving context.
If you know two people have met before, even briefly, mention it in the intro. Often people forget brief meetings and you don’t want to embarrass one of them.
Only forward emails that make the originator look good. And, of you have to, edit the email before forwarding. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been introduced to someone by an introducer who forwards me a semi-confidential email chain that I probably shouldn’t see.
If you are introducing single people of different genders, make sure there is no misunderstanding the intentions of the introduction. If it is a business introduction, make sure you are clear about it. You don’t want to create an embarrassing situation were people have misalign intentions.
If the people use their assistants, then copy the assistants of both parties if appropriate.
And overall, your goal should be that both parties leave the meeting with each other happy that you made the intro. They need to BOTH get value from the meeting or you have failed. But when you succeed, you have the potential to massively increase the happiness of both people. An intro can be the best way to help people.