Seeking introductions is one of the basic things that startup founders do pretty much every day. We talked about introductions in the post about business development tips, and also in this post about asking for introductions. One other thing we teach founders how to do properly is to send something called forwardable emails.

As Fred Wilson wrote a while back, double opt-in is the typical way people expect to be introduced. Say a founder is asking me to connect with a prospective customer or investor. Even if I know this customer or investor well, I can't just introduce them. I need to ask if the person on the other end of the introduction is interested and has time to connect.

How do I do that? I would send an email. Now for me to write this email from scratch would take time. I would need to explain the business, explain why the connection makes sense and add a few bits about the founder, etc. It could easily be 10 minutes out of my day to do it properly.

Related: How to Turn Business Cards Into Business Relationships

A forwardable email from the founder reduces the work I have to do, because the founder explains the business and the reason for asking for the introduction. All I have to do is click the Forward button, add a sentence or two about my experience with the founder and the company and send it over.

The structure and style of forwardable emails are important. If not done correctly, it will create more work for the connector. The whole point is to avoid copy/paste and having to fix the email. In a nutshell, the forwardable email should be addressed to the final recipient. Here is an example that illustrates the point (note, this wasn't an actual exchange):

From: krystle @ getbentobox.com
To: alex.iskold @ techstars.com
Subject: Intro to Danny Meyer at USHG for Bento Box

Alex, thank you for passing this note to Danny.

Danny,

Bento Box (Techstars '15) is building a digital operations platform for restaurants starting with mobile friendly web sites and marketing tools. Here is our demo day pitch.

We now have more than 100 top New York City restaurants as customers including most of the Union Square Hospitality Group, Meatball Shop, Breslin, etc. The restaurants on the platform are seeing significant increase in conversion and reservations. We've been growing across our key metrics 30 percent month over month and are now expanding to Boston and Portland.

I've been a follower and admirer of yours for years, and I would love to get your feedback on our business.

Thank you,
Krystle

Related: Is Dating Becoming Just Another Networking Opportunity for Entrepreneurs?

When I get this email, I click forward and then add a few lines on top:

Danny,

Krystle graduated Techstars NYC program in April. She is a deeply passionate and knowledgable founder. I highly recommend her and the team and hope you can find the time to connect. Please see more about her business and ask below.

Alex

When Danny gets the email, it is very clear:

  • This is an email asking for introduction to him.
  • He can see the name of the company in the subject line.
  • It will be easy to find this exchange later, because the subject line is unique.
  • He can see the note from me on top.
  • He can read more about the company and the ask in Krystle's own words.
  • He can respond to accept or decline depending on the situation.
  • If he accepts, I can just add Krystle to this email and the intro is complete.
  • If he declines, I can reply to Krystle's original email with a decline.

By following this style of forwardable email, you minimize the work involved for the connector, and make the introduction process more efficient. Try it out and let us know how it works out for you.

Got more tips on what worked and what didn't work on forwardable emails? Please post them in the comments section below.

Related: How to Mobilize Your Employees' Connections