On Surprise e-Intros

I have currently 6 guilt-inducing e-introductions sitting in my inbox, flagged of course. While I am extremely grateful for being introduced to interesting folks, I do not appreciate surprise-introductions. I don’t want to be that person that doesn’t reply, or simply doesn’t have time to meet up for coffee or to have lunch. I know, that all of these introductions are meant well, I would just simply appreciate to be asked first, if an introduction is ok.

I fully agree with Fred Wilson’s post from 2009 on email intro etiquette:

“When introducing two people who don’t know each other, ask each of them to opt-in to the introduction before making it.” – Fred Wilson

The Double Opt-In Introduction

(thanks Cameron)

13 Comments leave a comment below

  1. I’m somewhat surprised anybody would make such an introduction without asking first. I would certainly not appreciate it.

  2. That’s excellent advice – and I must admit that I have been guilty of suprise e-intros in the past. It was only when my husband pointed out that it’s sometimes (often?) not appreciated, that I changed my policy. Thanks for underscoring the importance of asking first!

  3. really? this is an actual thing? i mean, this is how modern life has completely destroyed our interpersonal skills to the point where sending an email that says ‘tina meet tony, tony meet tina’ is an event that requires even a slight amount of protocol? and when that protocol isn’t followed, it’s surprising, offensive, and guilt-inducing?

    when i receive these messages (and i do get them with some regularity), i will – when uninterested in starting/continuing a dialogue – take all of 30 seconds to hammer out a ‘reply all’ to the effect ‘hey, thanks for writing. not really sure we have anything to meet about/have coffee over but it sure is nice to be thought of. take care!’

    not so hard.

  4. @Virgilstarkwell: That reply sure will make everyone involved feel good. Awesome that you can do that, it’s simply not my style.

  5. thanks, tina – btw, i wasn’t knocking your style. it was more about just be surprised on where technology has landed us. i mean, i was just thinking the other day that – not too long ago – if i wanted to talk to a client, i’d (gasp!) pick up the phone and call them. now it seems like the proper protocol is to send an email to schedule a time because god forbid the phone rings when one isn’t expecting it.

    i guess people have lost their ability to say ‘yeah, now’s not really a good time for me. can i call you back in an hour?’

  6. That may have been a time when we didn’t have 100 different channels of contact. Cell phone, email (multiple inboxes), Facebook, Twitter…

    I doubt it’s due to a “loss of ability.”

  7. This same principle applies to face-to-face introductions though, doesn’t it? You’d usually say ‘would you like me to introduce you to …’ or ‘hey, I should introduce you to…’ so for me this is basic good manners that apply regardless of medium.

  8. “A beginning is a very delicate time..”

  9. Very good point. It seems to me good and respectful manners. As such, several of them are lost in time. And space(s).

    (playing older than i am ;-) but awfully huge supporter of good manners when they’re not just *formalities* but synonym of respect and not putting people in awkward circumstances despite their will …

  10. I never bothered to develop the ability to say “now’s not really a good time for me. can i call you back in an hour?’ because a) I don’t like to lie and b) I REALLY prefer email to phones. I simply don’t answer the phone if the call isn’t expected and/or I don’t recognize the CID. I’m so happy not to be forced to use 19th century communication technology anymore!

    If you were introduced at a party or conference, would you feel that you _had_ to talk for an hour, share phone numbers, and meet up later for coffee? Why is an email introduction any different?

    I consider the email intro to be analogous to that party intro or an exchange of business cards at a conference. Now I have that person’s name & info and s/he has mine. This isn’t a setup for a date. It would never occur to me that there is some unspoken requirement that I have to start up a dialog, let alone meet for lunch. No expectations == no guilt.

    I guess introverted techies think differently.

  11. Vicki,

    Email introductions are rarely, in my experience, for just generic socialising purposes. They are more often for requests for help or other specific “to do’s” that one can do.

    Also, typically there are several more unspoken expectations in Europe than in the U.S. It’s a quite remarkable cultural difference.


  12. Tina, I laughed when I read this post. 6 months ago I was given your email address by a mutual connection, I held off on contacting you for exactly this reason !!
    Best wishes, from One Less Email.

  13. I would like to introduce myself to you. Is that okay? ;)