How’s your inbox? Mine’s… ok. But a bunch of emails are festering. I don’t quite know what to do with them. Maybe you know the feeling. And it could be because of a small but vital missing piece of email etiquette. 

Here’s how it goes.

Someone who knows you emails you and someone you don't know. They suggest the two of you meet.

You might get lucky and it’s the perfect time, person and place.

But more likely you end up having to pick one of these:

  • A. Saying a version of “Sorry, I don’t want to meet you”
  • B. Ignoring it
  • C. Taking ages to reply with a limp semi-excuse
  • D. Having a meeting you don't really want to have

Yes, all these options are bad. For everyone involved.

I’m sure this topic has been shared here before, but in the last couple of months I’ve had a growing number of these awkward emails.

It could be that new aftershave I bought on Temu. 

More likely it’s down to market uncertainty. Fast twitch muscles. A frenetic energy. Fear of falling behind. 

I get it.

(Btw, I’m not at all popular and am struggling with this, so I shudder to think what the true ballers are dealing with.)

What to do?

The double opt-in (coined by Fred Wilson, I believe) is a wonderfully simple solve. As he suggests:

When introducing two people who don't know each other, ask each of them to opt-in to the introduction before making it.

Here’s all you need to do:

1. Email each person separately to ask if it’s cool to intro. Include some context (e.g. the person’s LinkedIn URL, a couple of bullets on how you know them, what the ask is, etc). Make it easy for them to say yes or no

2. If both say yes, make the intro. (Pro Tip: write a helpful subject line, for example: “Intro: Alice (company X) <> Bob (org Y) - [topic]”)

3. If you’re one of the recipients, put the introducer on bcc unless they ask to be copied in. Most people don’t love an 14-email thread on scheduling a call they’re not attending

And voila.

Yes, this is more work for you if you are making the intro. But it’s worth it.

Oh, and which of options A-D is your go-to? Come on, be honest… 

Email Intros: The Double Opt-In (revisited)

There's something wrong. Great! Check your inbox and click the link to confirm your subscription.