You want to introduce two people to one another. In particular, you think that Alice can help Bob out. You value your relationship with both of them, and so you don’t want to impose on Alice, or overpromise to Bob.
This is where the double opt-in intro comes into play.
(We’ll call them Alice and Bob in the tradition of cryptography, but I assure you that this technique works regardless of the names of your recipients.)
How do I double-opt-in intro two people?
Confirm with Bob that they want an intro to Alice, and make sure you understand why. (Better yet, have Bob send you a forwardable email.)
Email Alice independently (perhaps by forwarding Bob’s email) asking if you can make the connection
If Alice accepts, start a new email thread connecting them both
If Alice declines (which they can do in a non-awkward way because Bob isn’t on the thread), you can let B know that you tried but weren’t able to make the intro—no harm done.
What if I just make the intro directly?
If you do this, you potentially put Alice in a tough spot—either she doesn’t want to take the meeting and you force her to (which hurts your relationship), or she just ghosts Bob, which makes you look bad because you connected them.
In either case, it’s rude. Please don’t do this. (I did this to Rich Miner once in 2013, and I still feel bad about it. Sorry, Rich.)
Is there ever a time I don’t need to double-opt-in intro?
If you’re 100% sure that the recipient of the intro definitely wants the intro, you can skip the double-opt-in intro and just connect directly. Ideally you’ve already talked to them about skipping this for a certain type of intro.
For example, I’ve made clear to my investors that they can always intro me to potential Pilot customers—no double-opt-in intro required, because I (a) know I will want the intro, and (b) know that we can serve them well.
When in doubt, just ask.
Alice has accepted—now what?
Once Alice has confirmed for you that she’s interested in meeting with Bob, start a new thread as below:
To: Alice, Bob
Subject: Intro: Alice/Bob
Hi Alice, Bob,
Thought it’d be great for you two to connect re: [topic]—you both have context, so I’ll let you take it from here!
Next, Bob should reply. Bob wants the favor, so the onus is on him to reply.
When Bob replies, he should move the original introducer to bcc, so that they don’t get any of the followup scheduling emails, like so:
Waseem, thanks for the intro → bcc
Hi Alice, I’ve heard really great things and I’d love to chat. Would [a specific time proposal] work well for you?
And there you have it!
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