What is The Double Opt-In Email Introduction
The Double Opt-In Email Introduction is when someone wants to introduce two people and has the permission of both before doing so. It’s common sense, but doesn’t seem to be common.
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“So, how can I help?”
Have you ever got on a phone call and both people say at the same time “So, how can I help?” Some contact introduced you both and didn’t either 1/ ask for permission to make an introduction, and 2/ didn’t really explain the specific purpose and benefit of the introduction… Well it happened to me this week.
A founder made an introduction to me to someone at an investment bank about some nebulous fundraising related topic. I didn’t really follow, but it didn’t appear to be the worst use of 5 minutes to have a call. Only it was.
Quite quickly the conversation came to, “I’m sorry, I don’t actually know why we were introduced.” The irony was, the call might have actually been useful had it followed proper protocol, at least for networking purposes. As it happened, this didn’t follow protocol and so was quite wasted.
What’s wrong with just making introductions to people?
A lot. Let’s break this down:
- You don’t respect my time: You assume I want to talk to someone, and so will make the time so ‘you’ don’t look bad
- You don’t know who I want to meet: Most likely we aren’t buddies. If we were, you would have asked me first since we would be chatting on a chat medium, right? You took it upon yourself to presume who I want to meet
- The bigger the name, the more they ask for intros first: I have noticed a correlation between the bigger the name of a VC/founder and their propensity to ask for direct intros. Just making intros shows your class
- I have to be the bad guy: My options for your bad intro (if it is) are 1/ ignore the email, 2/ say I don’t want to talk to you as my kitten has acrobat class, 3/ take a pointless call
- I can’t do other things: If you decide to waste my time, I don’t have time to allocate time to meetings/calls I do want to take
- Times change: Even if you know people, you can’t keep on top of everyone. What if an investor changes their investment thesis from on demand to AI? What if a contact moves from CEO to CPO and closes their round without telling you? What if an investor has already looked at a deal…?
Why most no double opt-in emails suck even more
Beyond just being annoying, these intros are more infuriating, why?
- No context: Typically, don’t explain ‘why’ I want to chat with someone
- Not qualified: Often don’t explain who the person is and if they are worth talking to. I am left to Google the person
- Double screw-you: Either person may not respond to the email. Without proper motivation that is an equally likely outcome in which case they both look bad
- The triple screw-you: Captain Insano who made the intro may get irksome that I didn’t respond, on a timely basis, or take the call. Not my issue, bud
- Pressure: You decide to play Jenga and let me knock the tower over if I don’t like it. There is no way I come out of ‘your’ game without 1/ calling BS on you, 2/ ignoring X or 3/ wasting my time. Thanks douche. We’re definitely not playing Monopoly next
What a non double opt-in email looks like
Please meet Mary at Twitter. They are playing with ephemeral communication and hope to make a big impact. She wants to ask you some questions about their business plan and thought you would like to chat, given your background.
Over to you guys to chat.
No, I don’t want to chat about their business plan. The real life Twitter has enough problems to take up my year.
What a WTF intro email looks like
Mary is CC’d on this email and is thinking about doing a startup. You should chat!
Like your facebook posts,
What the very fuck.
The rule of proper intros
It’s really simple:
If you think two people really should meet for a specific reason, ask both of them independently if they want to be connected, and give a specific reason why it is that it would be mutually beneficial for them to be connected. Then make an introduction which introduces each party briefly
What a double opt-in email looks like
My friend Mary at Twitter is playing with ephemeral communication and hopes to make a big impact. They have raised $560m to date. She mentioned she read your blog and wants to ask you some questions about why they need to send a pitch deck before meeting VCs.
I know you are interested in social networking and Mary is super connected in the space. It would be a great connect for you, so thought you would like to chat?
Are you happy for me to make an intro?
I’m watching you
I pay attention to people who make bad intros. I’m not as demure as some. If I get crappy intros, I let people know. For more esteemed people, I keep track of the quality of intros and at some point don’t accept them anymore.
The downside of being a connector
I follow the double-blind intro rule and I have come a cropper. There is one friend I have made intros to with quality people, but for some reason, shit happens. Both people are happy to meet, but for some reason, one party doesn’t respond and organize a call with him. I have no idea why this happens, but it seems to happen! Frankly, it’s not my fault and is a statistical anomaly. In such cases, you just need to be more prudent about making intros till you build up the social capital again.
Is it ever ok to make intros direct?
There are a few circumstances when you don’t need to make a “Double Opt-In Email Introduction.” These are:
- Certain on value: If you will bet your life that an intro is cash money, then off you go. But you need to know someone well enough to make that call. The best example is for paying customers. Everyone wants to make money. I intro startup founders to lawyers all the time and don’t ask for permission. Does that make me a dick? No. I know if the founders are a waste of time or not, firstly. I also know lawyers want to make money. So the fuck I care.
- You are tight: If you are buddy buddy with someone, you don’t have that much to lose by making intros. They’ll just say ‘WTF dude?’, a few times before they get bored if you make sucky ones. But you know them well enough to know what is gold and what is wood in the first place. Co-workers are another good example. They aren’t going to make intros that don’t make sense, right? A lot of my friends that make intros are not junior (shit, I’m getting old…), so when they make intros they are pretty much always awesome.
- Super connectors: Some people are turbo connected and make intros all the time. Sometimes they are gold and sometimes they are wood. I take these people with a pinch of salt since they are like Babe Ruth (High strike out, but high strike rate). Sure you think twice about some intros, but a lot of them end up decent.
It’s simple, just make “Double Opt-In Email Introductions” as standard. It makes some operational overhead for you, but it mitigates downside risk for you. The final thing to note, don’t make too many dodgy double opt-in offers; your contact still has to say no to you.
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Love this. AND the video with the bit of Bali seat 😉 All jokes aside, the double opt-in email intro rule is a must for fundraising. I got the link to this from my friend Florian in Hong Kong when I asked him to make and intro to a few Angels/VCs in Hong Kong and Shenzhen. Since we are based in Berlin now, I figured time is of essence while there. Turns out I am going back for a second trip now AFTER having had enough time to get proper intros. Thanks for writing this post and taking the time to make the video. Should be shared with Techstars, HAX, YCombinator and all other top of the call accelerators.
Yeah, I made this when I was working out of Bali building the ESOP training course. Ironically, ESOP are so important and it’s the only course on the net and so few people do it!
Yeah, you need intros as how you get in the room matters. It’s a pain in the ass and you think you are saving time by spamming, but your RoI is low.
You will prob have to go back again… and most guys for early stage aren’t cool with you being in Berlin. That’s more ok post S-A. Well, they’ll let you know!
Feel free to share with TechStars since you’re there 😉
Pine me if any questions.
Very valuable comments, double opt-in should become a standard not an option!
Would also add to those who benefit from receiving intros:
spend 5 min to follow up with person who originated the introduction.
They often have no clue what the outcome of the introduction was.
Hey Natalia – Did I not write that? Wow. I should have a section on that, if not a blog. Great shout. Thanks
Thank you for the clever, and humourous, break-down on introductions. This really seemed to resonate with outbound sales outreach. Often times one seeks an introduction to a potential ‘good fit’, but many times these are far off the mark, or out of the blue.
Shared Chris’ info-graphic with my team.
Tim – thanks buddy. Sales is the same, or should. That’s why cold conversion is nothing compared to a warm intro.