5 Key Rules for Asking for an Introduction

Written by Erik Severinghaus
Published on Jun. 09, 2014
5 Key Rules for Asking for an Introduction

Throughout my years as an entrepreneur, I’ve had the fortune to meet with several people who have made significant impact on the national and Chicago tech communities, but most importantly, on my company and me. Sometimes, I reached out to these business leaders with a cold email, asking them for advice. But many times, my network was kind enough to offer warm introductions to individuals who would provide invaluable insight into a particular challenge I was working to overcome (many thanks to all of you!) One of the things I learned, through trial and error, is that almost everybody wants to help, but you’ll get far better results if you make it easy for them to help, and direct them specifically so you get the most value.


Now the tables have begun to turn and I try very hard to pay the good deeds forward. In the spirit of helping entrepreneurs be as effective as possible at leveraging their network, here are five key rules I think are important when asking for an introduction:


  1. Write the text you want to be sent. If you are asking me for a connection, give me something to work with. Write out exactly what you want me to send so I can forward it on or paste it into an email with a personal note. Who knows what you’re looking to get out of the connection better than you? By providing this text upfront, you are actively outlining exactly what you want out of the new relationship as well as making it easier for me to pass along the most accurate information.

  2. Keep it short and sweet.  When drafting that email, make sure it’s concise and to the point. The more direct the better (follow the five sentence rule).  It is likely going to be sent through email or possibly take place during a chaotic networking event, so it’s necessary to make your request as clear as possible. If it’s too complicated, I might put it off.

  3. Know why you choose that person. There are a lot of people who would be helpful to have in your network, but why are you asking me to connect you with that particular person? You’ve got to know their background, their strengths and why you think they’re the best person for you to speak with otherwise the introduction seems too arbitrary for me to feel confident. If I know that you’ve done your due diligence, I won’t feel like I’m burdening my network.

  4. Find common ground. Why should they spend time with you? Are you alumni of the same school? Interested in the same topics? Entrepreneurs in the same space? Find some point of common ground to build rapport – people are far more willing to invest in folks if you are part of the same tribe.

  5. Ask for 15-20 minutes. 30 minutes is a major time commitment for many people. Demonstrate you respect their time and will be efficient by asking for an initial 15-minute intro. If you’re in the same area, ask to meet at their office and offer to bring coffee (far more time-efficient than a 30 minute coffee meeting where half the time is spent ordering.) If you’re not geographically aligned, go for a 15 min phone call.

Here’s an example of an great introduction request:



Thanks for offering to introduce me to Joe – I really appreciate it. Here’s some sample text you can use. Thanks!



Hope all is well. Challin asked me to connect the two of you because you two both work at SimpleRelevance (like you, she happens to be a huge cubs fan!) She’d like to come by your office and spend 20 minutes with you discussing the Chicago Entrepreneurial scene – she specifically wants your expert opinion on the most hopeful marketing campaigns for Chicago Tech companies (and she’s happy to bring you coffee.)

Would you mind if I connect the two of you over email?



As you can see, this sets your request up for success. It’s simple to forward on, explains why you’re interested in speaking to that person (including a personal connection), provides the time commitment requested, and even offers free coffee. Next time you’d like to speak to someone outside of your network, don’t hesitate to ask – just make sure you go about it the right way.


Image: Shutterstock

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