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How to Respond to Email Introductions With Good Etiquette

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Have you ever received an email introduction and wondered how to respond? Getting introductions to important contacts through people you know is vital to success. Such introductions can help you find work, clients, or even make a friend.

Knowing the right way to respond to an email introduction is an important business and social skill. You don't get a second chance to make a good first impression. And you can be sure, the email you send in response to an introduction will leave an impression. You need to make sure that the impression you make is the right one.

In this article: 

  • I describe some common business situations where an email introduction could be useful. 
  • Next, we'll look at what to do once the email introduction is made, including some email introduction etiquette best practices. 
  • Finally, I'll provide a sample introduction response email you can use as a template to create your own email introduction responses.
What is the best strategy for responding to email introductions
What is the best strategy for responding to email introductions? (graphic source)

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5 Types of Business Introductions (Often Made Through Email)

Introductions are a common business tool. If you know someone who is acquainted with someone you need to know, it's acceptable to ask your contact to introduce you. Often, such introductions are made through email.

Here are some frequently occurring business scenarios that involve introductions:

  1. Networking - As a business professional, who you know counts. It's helpful to have connections in your field and in related fields. Often, one of your connections can introduce you to others in your industry through email. 
  2. Job Search - If you're looking for a job at a specific company and you know someone who works there, your contact may be willing to introduce you to a decision-maker. Often, such introductions determine whether you're hired.
  3. Sales - If you are in sales, you may rely on others to introduce you to valid prospects. Connections are often made through personal introductions. They are more likely to be interested than contacts made through other methods.
  4. Work Project Teams - In today's business environment, it's not unusual for remote teams to work with others they've never met. An email introduction from the team leader can help your team be more cohesive.
  5. Vendors - It can be hard to find reliable suppliers. If you're happy with a product or service and your acquaintance is looking for that same product or service, you may want to introduce your acquaintance to your vendor.

If you run a small business or work as a professional, many of these types of introductions will come to you through email. It's important to know how to handle them, so you can respond with good email etiquette and make the most of each introduction.

How to Respond To an Email Introduction With Good Etiquette

If you are on the receiving end of an email introduction, what should you do? You may wonder how to respond to an email introduction.

How you respond to an email introduction makes an impression on your new connection. As we mentioned earlier, you want that impression to be a good one.

Follow These 4 Steps to Make a Good Impression

There are some email introduction etiquette best practices you should follow to make sure you make a good impression. When you receive an email introduction, follow these steps:

  1. Interest - Your first step in responding to an email introduction is to decide how important the introduction is to you. In some cases (a sales pitch, for example), you may not have been looking for an introduction or the contact may not be a good fit for your needs. It's okay to let the other party know you're not interested. In other cases (a job search, for example), you may have requested the introduction. What you decide determines the content of your response.
  2. Respond Quickly - No matter what you decide in the first step, you should respond in a timely fashion. Normally, a business introduction should be answered within a business day. You should send a polite response even if you aren't interested in the connection. You never know what the future holds, and one day you may need to contact that person again.
  3. Personalize Your Response - It's okay to base your response on a template, but don't send the same generic reply to every introduction email you receive. Customize your response to fit the circumstances surrounding the introduction. Add or delete information as needed.
  4. Thank the Referrer - Your original contact went out on a limb to recommend you, so let your original contact know how it went. They will be more likely to help you again if you provide feedback. Even if the introduction was unwanted, politely let your acquaintance know that the connection wasn't a good fit and explain why. You may need that referrer's help once more at another time.

If you do decide to set up response templates, Gmail's Canned Response tool can help. For more information on how to set up email templates using Gmail Canned Responses, see this tutorial:

Now that you understand the process of responding to an email introduction, let's examine at some specifics on how to compose an email introduction response.

How to Reply to Introduction Emails and Write Your Response

You're ready to write the email introduction response. What do you do first? Let's look at some specifics.

Note: I used Gmail or MS Outlook for these email examples, but they would work with most email providers. All names, email addresses, and phone numbers given in these examples are fictitious.

1. Write the Email Subject Line

The subject line of any email is important. It can determine whether your email is read or not. The wrong subject line could even cause your email to end up in the spam folder.

If you're responding to an email introduction, you may wonder what to put as the email's subject. In some cases, you'll be replying to the email introduction. If the subject line of the email introduction was clear and concise, it's okay to keep it intact. Some email systems (such as MS Outlook) will add RE: in front of the subject line to identify your response as a reply.

how to respond to an introduction email
Many email systems add RE: when you reply to a message.

If the subject line of the email introduction was unclear, however, you may want write your own. Your subject line should be short and to the point. The following is an example of email introduction response subject line.

Example of email introduction response subject line
Your subject line should be short and to the point.

As you can see, that email is direct and to the point. The name dropping can be important too. If the recipient respects and trusts Joe Jones, they will most likely open the email.

2. Address Your Response Email

The response email should be addressed to the person you are being introduced to. However, there's a dilemma.

The introduction email you received is likely from your contact with the person they are addressing the email to in the cc field. If you just hit Reply All to respond to the email, your original contact continues to be included in the conversation. Yet, you do want your original contact to know that you responded to their email introduction.

The best way to fix this is to move your original contact to BCC. That way the person who introduced you will know you acted on the introduction, but they aren't expect to take part in the conversation.

For more information on how to properly address an email, review this helpful tutorial:

3. Choose the Right Tone for Your Response

Courtesy counts. Remember you're making a first impression. A friendly, but professional tone is usually best.

Do pay attention to the tone of your introduction email. Is it formal, informal? Make your response reflect that tone. Your original connection likely knows which tone is best for your new contact.

This tutorial discusses the difference between a formal email and an informal email in more depth:

4. Be Direct

Your new connection is likely busy, so it's best to get to the point in the body of your introduction response email. If you're looking for a job, explain what type of work you do. If you are selling a product or service, explain why you think it will be useful to your new acquaintance.

Don't forget to mention how your relationship benefits your contact. If you are seeking a job, explain why you're a good fit. Explain how the company will benefit from your skills. If you are selling a product or service, explain how your product meets their needs and describe the main advantage of using your product.

To learn more about how to make your email concise and clear, study this tutorial:

5. Be Careful and Review Your Email Before Sending

Review the email carefully. Look for spelling and grammar errors. Use spell check to catch obvious errors, but go beyond that and look for incorrect information and other typos. Being careless with any business email can send the wrong message. You don't want your new contact to think that you're unprofessional or don't care about quality.

A Follow Up Email Sample

Let's explore a sample scenario and an example of an introduction email reply you might send in response to the scenario.

Example Scenario

A former coworker, Jane Perez, is employed by a ABC Company where you want to work. You notice that the ABC Company has a web development job listed on their website that you would be perfect for. 

You also know that you have a better chance of getting that job if someone within the company introduces you to the hiring manager. You ask your contact to make an email introduction, and a few days later you find the following email introduction from Jane in your inbox:

Sample Introduction Email
A sample email introduction.

It's time for you to respond to Jane's introduction email. Let's quickly review some of the points from the email introduction etiquette we learned earlier:

  • Interest - Since you asked for the email introduction, you are interested in the connection.
  • Respond Quickly - You know you need to respond in timely fashion, so you'll send the response out today.
  • Personalize Your Response - You don't have a template saved for email introductions, so the response will not be generic. (You can save this email introduction response as a template as long as you remember to customize it.)

We'll address the fourth point of email response etiquette later. Now, let's take a look at the email introduction response you might write:

Sample email introduction response
Here is a sample email introduction response.

For a template of this sample email introduction response that you can can customize with your own information, click here.

Notice that the response email starts by acknowledging Jane, but moves her to Bcc. Later, you'll write a separate follow up email to her.

The email also takes a professional courteous tone. It gets right to the point, by mentioning the job opening and your qualifications. You also make it easy for Sally to respond by listing several specific times when you will be available and provide your phone number.

Note: There's some disagreement about whether you should provide specific dates and times in an email introduction response. Those who are against it feel that it makes you appear less available. While those who are in favor of it feel it takes the work out of coming up with an agreeable meeting time for the recipient.

Finally, close the sample email on a positive note and with a professional tone.

A few days later, after Sally sets up an appointment with you, send a follow up email to Jane. Let her know the connection was successful. This thank you email is the fourth point of email introduction response etiquette. If you get a job because of Jane's introduction, you should let her know and thank her again.

Also, if the email does result in an interview, you may find this tutorial about how to write a thank you email to your interviewer helpful:

Grab the (Free) Email Inbox Strategies Ebook

Aside from mastering email introduction strategies, there are a number of additional email strategies that will help you email more professionally. If you're struggling with keeping up with all your emails, then it's time to take control.

Learn the email management techniques that will keep you get organized and processing your emails like a pro. Sign up for the Tuts+ Business Newsletter and get the FREE Inbox Zero eBook now

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Respond to Your Next Email Introduction Effectively

It's important to understand how to properly respond to an email introduction. If your email introduction response is professional, you leave a good impression. But if you respond poorly, your new contact will be less than impressed. Your email introduction response matters.

It's not hard to write an effective email introduction reply once you understand the basics of email introduction etiquette. Follow the guidelines for writing an email introduction response in this article and you'll have no trouble responding to your next email introduction effectively.

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