The good news about email introductions: they’re easier than breaking the ice in-person with a complete stranger. You have the time to write (and rewrite) your introductory message until it’s perfect and you don't have to make awkward eye contact. Yet most people still aren’t very good at introducing themselves by email. As a business owner, a bad first impression can set the conversation off on the wrong foot or, worse, it can cost you important opportunities.
In general, business emails should be brief. Your request should appear in the first or second sentence. However, when you’re writing to introduce yourself, you need to first establish some social currency before you ask for anything significant. All in all, it’s critical to keep your message concise. Use the first paragraph to introduce yourself and then proceed with your request.
If you’re wondering how to introduce yourself in an email, read on to find perfect openers for specific types of situations. For the most part, they’re ready to use; make a few minor additions and tweaks, and they’ll be ready to send in no time!
Follow-up to Encounter at an Event
When you briefly meet at an event, but don’t get the chance to properly introduce yourself, follow up with an email. Remind the recipient of how and where you met and give your contact information:
Dear [Connection Name],
It was wonderful to meet you last week at [insert conference name]. We only spoke for a brief moment, but I promised I would send you my contact information. I would love to chat more about your expertise and find ways we can collaborate.
Are you available for lunch or coffee this coming week? Please let me know your availability and we can plan from there.
I look forward to getting to know you more.
Why It Works: Although the writer and the recipient didn’t exchange contact information, the recipient will remember the recent conversation, as well as the shared experience. Also, the recipient knows exactly what to do next.
Referred by a Friend
When a mutual acquaintance offers to share a contact with you, always follow-up. Your reputation depends on keeping your promises, even if they’re small. Email makes it easy.
Dear [Referral Name],
Our mutual friend, [insert friend name], suggested I contact you about one of my upcoming projects. S/he spoke highly of the work you’ve done with other clients. I took the time to do a bit of research on your background, and it seems that there’s a great opportunity for us to collaborate.
Are you available for a brief phone conversation this week to chat? Say, [insert day name]?
Please let me know! I’m looking forward to exploring how we can work together.
Why It Works: This email establishes a connection through a mutual friend or acquaintance, and shows that the writer has done research on the recipient’s background and expertise.
We Should Meet
Occasionally you may encounter the work of another professional, whether on LinkedIn or in-person. You think you should connect for current or future ventures. Here’s one way to do it:
Dear [New Connection Name],
We haven’t met, but I’ve been following your work on [insert topic] for a while now. I’m grateful for your invaluable contributions to the space and have been greatly inspired by your research.
I would love the opportunity to talk more and pick your brain this week, if you’re available. Coffee on me!
Why It Works: The writer positions himself or herself as a “fan,” but smoothly pivots the intention of the message to a peer-to-peer networking request. Emphasizing that coffee will be picked up by the writer, as well as positioning the meeting as “picking your brain,” sets it up as a “show up and talk” experience for the recipient, as opposed to an involving or costly event.
Congratulations on Your Achievement
Someone you’d like to know received a promotion or just got a new job. It’s a great time to introduce yourself. You need to use a bit of finesse, however, or else you will risk sounding like an opportunist.
Hi [Achiever Name],
It’s so great to hear the good news about your promotion to [position name] at [company name]. Congratulations on your well-earned success!
I understand that you’ve been responsible for a lot of the [company name]’s growth. As a long-time follower of [company name] and an expert in my field, I would love to learn more about how I can help you achieve your goals in your new position.
Let me know if you have availability this week to schedule a brief conversation over lunch!
Why It Works: Rather than a cheesy “Congratulations!,” the writer demonstrates interest in the company and the reader’s influence there. Further, the writer establishes expertise and promises to bring helpful research. The reader doesn’t need to do anything except send his or her availability.
Perhaps You Can Help
One of the primary reasons to introduce yourself is when you’re looking for opportunities for your business. The best strategy is to find the right contact and be forthcoming. Try the following approach:
Dear [Helper’s Name],
You may not be the right person, but I wonder if you can help me – or, at least, point in the right direction.
Do you use highly-skilled [insert role or position name]? We are a boutique firm offering customized solutions to businesses just like yours.
If you’re not the right person to contact, I apologize for taking your time. But any direction you can provide will be greatly appreciated.
Thanks for your time!
Why It Works: People actually love to feel helpful. Many organizations are intricate and complex, and if you pick up on it, you can establish instantaneous insider rapport. It may be the only cue they need to happily provide assistance. Also, the shorter paragraphs ensure that the reader will continue to the end.
Other Factors to Consider
Grab Them With a Good Subject Line
Even if the body of your email uses one of the templates above and is sure to land you a lunch meeting, the recipient of your email may not even bother to open your note if you write a bad subject line. One- or two-word subject lines like “Remember me?” are unlikely to survive the spam filter. Avoid gimmicks, sarcasm and irony. Instead, carefully select seven to ten words that pique interest, but don’t annoy. Here are the types of subject lines that have the best shot of getting opened:
- Doing research in your area of expertise
- Curious about your insights on _____________
- Saw your interview/Read your book: Question on _______________
- Need help: Can you direct me to the right person?
- Follow-up on our brief meeting at _________________
- Congratulations from a fellow alumna on ________________
- Similar interests, please connect on LinkedIn
Referred by John Adams
Use a Professional Email Address
Send your introduction email from a business account. Avoid Gmail, Yahoo, or free email service providers. Your email has the best chance of not only being delivered, but of being opened if it comes from a professional address. You should have an email address that uses your domain name.