An idea about email introductions

November 14, 2014

Throughout my adult life, I’ve been a bit of a connector. By virtue of this, I often am asked to make an introduction for someone; a person I know is interested in contacting another person I know. I have a standard email format that I use for this, but the most recent time I did it raised a few questions in my mind about whether I was invading people’s privacy. This post highlights an idea I have for privacy-respecting email introductions.

A couple weeks ago I was talking to Annie, who was looking to fill a job opening. She’s a great developer at a good company, and I knew a few people who might be a fit. I thought specifically of Bob, so she asked me to send an introduction. I enjoy bringing people together, especially for an opportunity to work together.

In this case, I did what I generally do: brought up an email, added both people to the To and used my usual format for the body:

Now, while I think about the people, I don’t usually think much about the email; I try to make it a bit personal, but I mostly want to get the introduction out there and active. This is why I use a pretty standard format:

I’ve done this many, many times, for various reasons. But, this last time, something felt different.

Lately, I’ve been learning more about and considering people’s boundaries, privacy and expectations, and, completely unexpectedly, all that rushed to mind after sending this last email introduction. To be honest, it shocked me a bit, but I had an overwhelming feeling that I might have just invaded Bob’s privacy. It boiled down to one simple question:

Now, don’t get me wrong, I didn’t think this was necessarily the end of the world. On the surface, it doesn’t even seem like that big of a deal. But, even though Bob was a well-known developer and it was public that he was looking, he probably was getting a lot of offers and might have valued his choice of whom he talked to about potential jobs. He might not want to be receiving email from all the people I think might be interested in hiring him.

With a bit of thought, I came up with an idea on how to do this in the future while still maintaining the introducee’s privacy.

So, in the future, I’ll be continuing to do email introductions whenever I can. But, instead of putting both parties on the To line, I’ll use the following rule.

I don’t think this is a huge, ground-breaking thing. But, over the years, I’ve learned that every little bit can help.

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I'm a developer. I post pictures of cats on twitter.