How To Introduce Yourself To Someone Two Degrees Away

Kevin Donlin - The Simple Job Search and resume writerYesterday I got an e-mail from Kevin Donlin, asking for my input for an article. I misunderstood the question, so I get to use my original response for this blog post 🙂 The question that I answered was:

What is the BEST thing someone could write in an email to convince someone not in their immediate network to make a connection with them (that could lead to a job)?

Here was my reply:

Kevin, (1) Dave Perry recommended that I get in touch with you. (2) I am an in the IT space, with an emphasis on web technology, and Dave mentioned that you have a lot of experience in web technologies. He also mentioned that (3) you are very well connected, and have a good understanding of the best network opportunities that I should know about. (4) Do you have time this week or next week for a lunch?


  1. Drop a name (first and last name), but it has to be real. If Kevin contacts Dave to verify the story, or learn more about me, the last thing you want is for Dave to deny what I wrote.
  2. Who am I? Put in a few words (not a novel) about who I am… let Kevin know something about me.
  3. Common ground. I describe what I’m interested in, and state that Dave is basically recommending Kevin as the expert that I need to learn from, and someone who can point me in the right direction.
  4. Invite to lunch. I find the best relationship building I do is face-to-face, over lunch. It’s more likely that I’ll have undivided attention, as well as a lot of time. Compare that to a superficial string of e-mails where it’s really hard to get the information and relationship that I need. Just remember, you invited so you pay! (obviously you could change this to “a phone call”)

That has worked for me. Notice how short it is? The relationship building does not happen on the first e-mail! Think of this as your thirty second pitch.

What has worked for you?

2 thoughts on “How To Introduce Yourself To Someone Two Degrees Away”

  1. Jason, I think you have hit on precisely the key points – Get their attention, tell them who you are and why that should interest them, and ask for a meeting! I think a short, to-the-point message (either via email or when introducing yourself in person) is MUCH more effective than an entire biography. Start the dialogue and see where it takes you!

    When job-seekers tell me “networking isn’t working,” often we can trace the problem back to the fact that they don’t know how to introduce themselves effectively and don’t make it easy for contacts to help them. They usually try to cram their entire career history into a 3- or 4-minute introduction that should ideally last only 30 to 90 seconds… and that’s when you’re INVITED to “tell me about yourself.” In your example, you haven’t even had the invitation yet, so you need first to establish that you have mutual interests.

    Another key point – it doesn’t have to be flashy. You don’t have to wow them with a clever line.

    Thanks for opening up this topic!

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