The operating system of building your network in tech is the forwardable intro email. Want to work a connection you have? Use a forwardable email. Want to meet a VC you have mutuals with? Use a forwardable intro email. Want that coveted intro to the man, myth, and legend…Ashton Kutcher? Great! Use a forwardable intro email.
What is a Forwardable Intro Email?
It’s best to explain forwardable intro emails work through an example. If I want to connect with Susan, a prolific seed stage VC, I think of someone in my network who does have a connection to her. Let’s say the name of this person is John, as an example. I could ask John for an intro to Susan, but John can’t make the intro automatically because he respects Susan’s time. Susan may not want to meet with me, even though I want to meet with her, because of constraints on her time. So instead, John tells me to draft a forwardable intro email that he can send to Susan. In this email, I am making my case for why Susan should meet with me. Why am I worth her time?
I draft up this email, I send it to John, and he forwards it to Susan. Susan now see’s the forwardable email I wrote. If she thinks that I am worth her time at that moment, she then would tell John to make the introduction. At this point, John then makes an introduction to Susan and I and now I have access to her. This is what so many call the double opt in intro.
Why Do Forwardable Intro Emails Exist?
You may be wondering why I can’t just email Susan myself? I could, but at the end of the day, it’s all about the trust link. Most people in the world would waste Susan’s time if given 10 minutes with her, so she is protective of it to make room for the people who won’t waste her time. After all, she only has 24 hours, just like the rest of us.
In the above scenario, Susan trusts John. And if John is sending Susan my intro request, it means there is a link of trust going from John to me. So Susan can assume there’s some signal with me if I convinced John to send a forwardable email to her. But if I email Susan cold, she knows nothing about me. She doesn’t have anyone to vouch for me or give any context on who I am. And she gets hundreds of these a day so how does she pick who to meet vs. reject? This is why warm intros matter. They are a transfer of trust. They are a way the very busy people can figure out where to spend their time.
I’m not saying that there aren’t major flaws with the warm intro system or that cold emails don’t work, but in general, busy people have a way of doing things and it’s best that we cater to how they like to work. No, we don’t have to but if we’re the ones trying to get access to them, we need to play by the rules they like. We don’t have to, but then we may not get the results we want either.
How to Write A Good Forwardable Intro Email
At Seedscout, we have a preferred format we like these emails top be in from our founders. We wrote a post on this format here and that I think any founder could get some value out of. With that said, there are dozens of ways to write one. Roy Bahat wrote a great post on this as well back in 2014.
I’d argue that writing a good forwardable intro email is a key skill of any founder actively trying to grow their network, which should be every one of you. Hopefully this post shines a light why forwardable intros are a preferred format for VCs and other busy people. Although far from perfect, they have their place in this crazy world we call the private markets.