Master the art of email introductions

Good connections create strong, vibrant networks

Advisors like you rely on client referrals to help build your business. But did you ever consider that you could do the same for your clients' own businesses? Unless your firm specializes in a very niche market (for example, doctors), your clientele includes a wide variety of professionals, many of whom could benefit by knowing one another.

One client's retail business might need software help that another client's firm can provide. Or maybe you could match a client looking to build an in-law apartment for her elderly parents with the owner of a remodeling business. Helping connect clients in such situations can establish the ultimate win-win-win dynamic: Your clients benefit from the relationships they develop together, and they see another dimension to the value you offer them as an advisor.

Email introductions offer an easy, convenient way to make these connections, but they also pose risks. A poor introduction could cause more harm than good—for example, if clients feel you're not adequately respecting their privacy or are wasting their time. Here are a few best practices to keep in mind to help your email introductions hit their mark.

Do your homework

Before connecting two clients, think carefully. You should have a clear idea of how each could help the other. In many cases, it may be easier to see the benefit of a relationship for one party than the other. The more difficult it is to articulate the benefits of a relationship to either party, the more important it is to take your time and consider whether an introduction is truly a good idea.

This step is especially important if a client asks you to make an introduction for them. Remember, your reputation is at stake whenever you make a referral.

Ask for permission

Once you're confident the relationship is likely to be fruitful for everyone involved, reach out to each party separately to ask their permission before introducing them to one another. This extra step demonstrates that you care about your client's privacy and gives them an opportunity to opt out gracefully. If either party fails to see the value in an introduction, it's better to know that before you formally connect them. Explaining why you want to put clients in touch with one another beforehand also helps prepare them for the formal introduction, making it more likely they will respond positively.

Strike the right tone

An email introduction should have the same tone and feeling as an in-person introduction: warm, personal, and direct. If you've done your homework, the reasons for introducing these people should be clear. In your introduction, your job is simply to lay them out.

Start by calling out positive attributes of both parties in a personalized, enthusiastic way (for example, "Linda knows more about X than anyone I know"). Next, clearly and concisely lay out why you think these two people should connect with one another, concentrating on the key ways both parties stand to benefit. Then suggest the two parties contact one another independently.

Follow up

Do not simply trust that a relationship will grow out of your introduction. Check in with both parties after a week or two to find out whether the connection bore fruit. If the parties haven't talked, a gentle follow-up could be enough to remind them to get in touch.

If one party or the other is harboring doubts, a follow-up could give you the opportunity to address them. And in a worst-case scenario—for example, one client feels slighted by the other—you'll have an opportunity to apologize and provide reassurance that you had their best interests in mind.

Build your network purposefully

Networking is built on fruitful, mutually beneficial relationships—and quality is more important than quantity. While email introductions can make it easier to connect people, especially if they are geographically distant, it's best to use them selectively.

As an advisor, making powerful, successful introductions can boost both your reputation and the value you provide clients. Ensuring a win-win situation for the people you connect is the key to reaping those benefits.

What you can do next

  • Keep these best practices handy to help you make email introductions and find more ways to help clients feel valued.
  • Consider a custodian that invests in your success. If you're thinking about becoming an independent advisor, contact us to learn more  about the benefits of a Schwab custodial relationship.