An idea about email introductions

Written by Corey Haines / Original link on Nov. 13, 2014

Throughout my adult life, I’ve been a bit of a connector. By virtue of this, I often am asked to make an introduction for someone; a person I know is interested in contacting another person I know. I have a standard email format that I use for this, but the most recent time I did it raised a few questions in my mind about whether I was invading people’s privacy. This post highlights an idea I have for privacy-respecting email introductions.

A couple weeks ago I was talking to Annie, who was looking to fill a job opening. She’s a great developer at a good company, and I knew a few people who might be a fit. I thought specifically of Bob, so she asked me to send an introduction. I enjoy bringing people together, especially for an opportunity to work together.

In this case, I did what I generally do: brought up an email, added both people to the To and used my usual format for the body:

To:, This is an introduction email. Bob, meet Annie. She's the lead developer at Company X, doing some really cool things. She's looking for a developer, and you came to mind. I think you might be a good fit, so I wanted to introduce you both. Annie, meet Bob. He's a really solid dev that I've known for a while; I mentioned him to you the other day. He's got a good background in the kind of technology you are using, as well as an interest in your domain. Good Luck!

Now, while I think about the people, I don’t usually think much about the email; I try to make it a bit personal, but I mostly want to get the introduction out there and active. This is why I use a pretty standard format:

To:, This is an introduction email. Introducee, meet person who wants an introduction. Person who wants an introduction, meet introducee. Good Luck!

I’ve done this many, many times, for various reasons. But, this last time, something felt different.

Lately, I’ve been learning more about and considering people’s boundaries, privacy and expectations, and, completely unexpectedly, all that rushed to mind after sending this last email introduction. To be honest, it shocked me a bit, but I had an overwhelming feeling that I might have just invaded Bob’s privacy. It boiled down to one simple question:

Does Bob really want his personal email given to Annie?

Now, don’t get me wrong, I didn’t think this was necessarily the end of the world. On the surface, it doesn’t even seem like that big of a deal. But, even though Bob was a well-known developer and it was public that he was looking, he probably was getting a lot of offers and might have valued his choice of whom he talked to about potential jobs. He might not want to be receiving email from all the people I think might be interested in hiring him.

With a bit of thought, I came up with an idea on how to do this in the future while still maintaining the introducee’s privacy.

Put the introducee in BCC and the person who wants the introduction on the To line. This establishes interest, puts the relevant email in public (the person who wants the introduction) while still maintaining the privacy of the introducee.

So, in the future, I’ll be continuing to do email introductions whenever I can. But, instead of putting both parties on the To line, I’ll use the following rule.

> Annie: Hey, can you introduce me to Bob? > Me: Sure, I'll send an email introduction. To: Annie's email BCC: Bob's email

I don’t think this is a huge, ground-breaking thing. But, over the years, I’ve learned that every little bit can help.


« Short-lived Branches - A formal spec for GitHub Flavored Markdown »