Lots of business introductions occur virtually and, let’s be honest, sometimes they can be awkward!

It’s hard to know exactly how to introduce yourself in an email or LinkedIn message. You want to be perceived as impressive, not arrogant; kind, not fake; and eager, but not pushy. Striking this balance can be challenging, but with a few strategies, you can craft the right message that will get the right response.

  1. Describe your connection. Did a colleague suggest that you meet? Do you admire their work? Did someone refer you to him or her? State your connection to the other person as soon as possible—this will grab their attention. 
  2. Describe yourself briefly. Write about yourself and your work as it pertains to the other person. Keep it short and sweet.  
  3. Be clear about your request. Do you want to ask their advice about a project you’re working on? Do you want to learn more about their experience in a specific field or company? Would you like to propose a collaboration? Do you simply want to have coffee and get to know him or her? Describe your request specifically—this makes it much more likely to happen. 
  4. Be flexible and gracious. If you want to speak with the other person, offer several days, times and avenues to do so.
  5. Make it about them, not you. Don’t discuss your problems or currently challenges in depth. Emphasize their knowledge and experience, and how you want to learn from it.

Here’s an example of a thoughtful email introduction:

Hi Carol, 

Kathy, my supervisor, suggested that I introduce myself to you. She told me that you recently worked with J Design Firm to redesign your department’s portal. We’re starting the process of redesigning ours (we’ve already encountered a few roadblocks…) and are considering hiring J Design. I really admire your finished portal and would appreciate learning all I can from you. I’d love to buy you coffee and discuss your experiences with this firm and the entire design process. 

Please let me know what day or time would be most convenient for us to meet. I know you’re currently working on the conference, so feel free to also give me a call if that’s easier. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts. 

Many thanks, 

How about you: What are your tips for introducing yourself via email? What kinds of introduction messages are you most likely to respond to positively?

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