It’s a classic in business: an acquaintance asks you if you know someone who can help or is perhaps even the ideal candidate for a vacancy. And you know someone like that. So you plan to introduce the two to each other – via email. Such a recommendation by email simplifies the work immensely, one might think. There are some pitfalls in the details here too.
Why Do People Recommend By Email
When it comes to social contacts, we are connected to people in different ways – there are contacts through family, relatives, school, work, sports, or other clubs. Networking has even increased through social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin. It is often precisely here that one can see who is connected to whom, without this having been apparent beforehand.
Practical! Of course, you can also specifically ask your direct acquaintances to bring you together with someone or to introduce you to someone whom you know only two or three corners. But how to do it right? Are there formal criteria for this?
Factors to Consider When Recommending By Email
First things first: there are no fixed etiquette rules, such as those for greetings, salutations, or shaking hands, when recommending by email. Especially since in the typical three-way constellation two out of three people usually already know each other well – the recommender and the recipient – it is often more relaxed than with the other business correspondence.
But that should not hide the fact that this is still a professional contact and not matchmaking for a date. So please think carefully about who you want to recommend to whom and how: Ultimately, it always falls back on you. If both find out afterward that it doesn’t fit at all, their reputation always suffers as a result. And if this happens several times, your judgment will soon no longer be trusted. The network then takes real damage.
But sometimes there is also the situation that you become active on your initiative because you believe that two people from your circle of acquaintances should get to know each other – a proactive recommendation, so to speak. In that case, please consider the following:
Passing on e-mail addresses without being asked is similar to giving addresses or telephone numbers to third parties: At the beginning of all relationship maintenance, they should be permitted to be allowed to pass on an e-mail address. No one is delighted when everyone and anyone has access to their email address. In the worst case, the recommendation turns out to be a waste of time or worse, as a pushy salesperson or annoying petitioner.
Therefore act in a similar way to email marketing – with a so-called double opt-in. Ask both parties in advance whether they can make a recommendation and try to find out the following information in the advance email:
- What is the background of the contact request?
- What is the advantage for both contacts?
- What actions are expected of your contact?
- Time factor
Assume that both people are relatively busy. So make it easier for both of you to get to know each other as quickly and easily as possible – for example, by including the contact details and a mini vita of both of you in the email and not just the email addresses in the CC field.
An email can also get lost when a person is too busy, on vacation, or a business trip. You should therefore also pay attention to the optimal timing. If too much time passes before the mail is read and answered, this can have an unfavorable effect on the recommendation and at least one recipient could be upset.
In the case of a recommendation by email, this always lies with the person who was contacted. He or she must either get in touch with the other person and show interest and make another appointment – or figure out how he or she can be of service. Make this step easier for both of you by writing a short (!) justification in your email as to why both of you should network and why you should establish contact.
With every recommendation, there is also social pressure on the two recipients of the email. Finally, you force a reaction – practically without being asked. If you have a lot going on at the moment, you can sometimes react irritated when you are involuntarily dragged into a virtual arena and now have to answer someone you don’t even know. It is therefore advisable to inform at least one of the two recipients in advance and to ask whether contact is desired at all. But better both.
To be on the safe side, it is best to ask your contacts what their preferred communication medium is. This is the chance for those who don’t like e-mails to opt-out in good time or to reject them altogether. Quite a few simply prefer the telephone. Then please stick to that.
Checklist for Email Recommendation’
Let’s assume that everyone involved has agreed and prefers a recommendation by email. Now it’s time to formulate the contact initiation email in concrete terms. Depending on how well everyone already knows each other, a short text will suffice
A recommendation based on a professional profession belongs in the area of business letters and should therefore start like this: “Dear Sir/Madam…” – this also underlines the seriousness and conscientiousness of the recommendation.
Briefly explain where you know both contacts from: Is it a good friend or is it more of an acquaintance, for example through a social network like Xing? Then explain why you are making this recommendation: Were you asked to do this and did you take the initiative?
What mutual benefit do you promise the two recipients through this contact? Have both parties (unknowingly) met somewhere? If you are aware of this, there is a starting point and you save your contact from embarrassing moments. It may also be necessary to explain what role you will play in this new constellation.
You can already exchange contact data through the address fields (TO: recipient; CC: recommended). However, it is better to list the most important contact information of both parties at the end of the e-mail (e-mail address, telephone number, possibly also cell phone number) – of course only with mutual consent. This makes it easier for both of you to exchange ideas.
Keep this official mail as short as possible (time is money!) – and as precise as necessary. If both sides benefit from the new contact, you have done a great job and even strengthened your network.