19 July, 2018
By Jeff Gillis
For many job seekers, nothing’s more frustrating than the words, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”
What if you don’t know anyone? Perhaps you’ve moved to a new city, switched industries, or simply didn’t recognize the importance of networking until recently. How can talented individuals in this situation play catch-up and get their career started?
It isn’t impossible, and you don’t have to be obnoxious to get in front of the right people. In fact, there’s an entire method for introducing yourself to people you’ve never met but would like to know. It’s called sending a Letter of Introduction.
What Exactly is a Letter of Introduction?
A letter of introduction is exactly what it sounds like.
It’s a piece of correspondence introducing yourself to someone asking to make their acquaintance and if they’re willing, help you find a job opportunity or meet other people in your desired industry. They’re a polite way of getting your name in front of important people without infringing on their time or accosting them in a coffee shop.
While we’re on the topic of things to avoid, let’s discuss what a letter of introduction is not. An introduction letter is not your resume, it’s not a cover letter, and it’s not a short story detailing your early life, dreams, and ambitions.
Rather, it’s a brief, clear, and concise explanation of who you are (i.e. a recent graduate, an experienced web designer) and why you are writing.
This reason could be that you’re looking for a job or you’re hoping to chat with them to gain some insight into the industry you wish to enter.
Types of Introduction Letters
An introduction letter can be used to introduce yourself to someone new or to introduce a friend or colleague to someone you know. Introduction letters are either formal or informal. Typically speaking, an informal introduction letter is used in the second case where Person A is introducing Person B to Person C.
How to Write the Different Kinds of Letters of Introduction
Writing an informal introduction letter to introduce someone to a third party is rather simple. Since you know the person you’re introducing them to, you can rely on your own judgement when choosing your wording. For this article, we’ll focus on a relatively formal letter, even if it’s to a colleague. Such a letter should include the following features:
- An explanation of why you’re writing
- A brief description of who you’re introducing them to, relevant details like their job, and how you personally know them
- A few lines on what that person needs (i.e. advice on entering the tech world with a finance background) and why you thought your colleague would be a useful resource
- The job seeker’s contact information, ideally both their telephone number and email address
Today, most people send letters of introduction via email. Be mindful of how you send that email. For instance, there’s a difference between sending a letter of introduction and a referral letter.
Let’s say your friend, Sandra, needs a freelance copywriter. You worked with a great copywriter, Joseph, and you tell Sandra you’ll send him your details. In this case, you’d send Sandra something similar to an introductory email, but since it’s a referral you’d likely cc Joseph, so he and Sandra can continue the conversation on their own.
Now, let’s change the circumstances a bit. In this scenario, let’s pretend Sandra owns a copywriting agency and Joseph is looking for a full-time gig. He asks you to introduce him to someone who works in an agency. When you send this letter of introduction, you would not cc Joseph on the email. If you did, you’ve put Sandra on the spot. You’d simply include Sandra’s contact information and leave it at that.
When writing a letter of introduction for yourself, the steps are almost identical with a few subtle differences:
- Dive right into who you are and what you do
- Include a few lines about why you’re writing to them and specific details about what you’d like from them like industry insights or information on job opportunities.
- Provide information on how they can reach you, how you look forward to speaking with them, and a thank you for their time
- End with a respectful sign-off
Letter of Introduction Samples
Here are a few samples of different kinds of introduction letters:
Introductory Letter on Behalf of Someone Else
Hope you’re doing well. I’d like to introduce you to Joseph Gardiner. He’s a freelance copywriter who specializes in writing for financial technology startups with expertise in blockchain and cryptocurrencies. I’ve worked with him several times, and he’s a creative individual who writes fantastic copy that converts.
He’s interested in joining an agency, and I thought it might be useful if you two met. You can find his portfolio at www.josephgardiner.com. I’ve cc’d him here, so you two can chat. You can also reach him at 519-555-5555.
Introductory Letter on Behalf of Yourself
My name is Joseph Gardiner. I’m a freelance copywriter with 8 years of experiences writing for financial technology startups with expertise in blockchain and cryptocurrencies.
I’m a huge fan of the work Ever After does, particularly the project your agency worked on with ABC Finance. If you have the time, I’d love to chat with you about the dynamics of copywriting in an agency setting and whether there are any potential job opportunities with yours.
If you have time to talk, you can reach me at 519-555-5555 or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also review my portfolio of work at www.josephgardiner.com.
Thanks for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you.
These are rather formal examples. We’ve made Joseph a copywriter in order to make a specific point. A copywriter’s job is to write eye-catching copy that compels a reader to take action, yet we’ve still shown you an example of a professional, formal email.
While less formal letters sometimes work, you don’t want to run the risk of alienating someone you don’t know with what feels like a gimmick or a sales letter.
Putting It All Together
A letter of introduction allows you to even the playing field when it comes to the game of “who knows who”.
If you can dedicate time to send a letter (or email) of introduction each week to people you’d like to meet, you’re guaranteed a certain percentage replying back – so long as you don’t simply cut and paste the same letter for everyone.
Whether it’s to land a new job or break into a new industry, take advantage of the power of introductory letters.
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