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A letter of introduction is different than other types of job-search correspondence, such as cover letters or referral letters. As the name implies, the purpose of the introduction letter is to introduce yourself or someone else to another person to create a connection. Therefore, an introduction letter should be short and concise, and explain who you are (or the person you are introducing is) and why you are reaching out.
Types of Introduction Letters
There are two primary types of introduction letters. With the first, you are introducing yourself to someone, such as a recruiter or headhunter, potential mentor, or a leader at a company or industry where you wish to seek employment. With the second type of letter, you are introducing two people who you know to each other. While a letter of introduction usually includes some type of request, such as an informational interview or meeting, it is not intended to be a letter of application or a job request. It is a networking tool that could potentially lead to employment in the future, but that should not be the initial intent.
When writing a letter to introduce yourself, begin by providing your full name and a brief summary of who you are and your experience. Follow that by specifically explaining what you are looking for from the recipient, and why you are reaching out to them. For example, you could write, “I have been developing digital media campaigns for XYZ Company for four years, and I am interested in putting my expertise to work teaching others how to create their own effective campaigns. I understand you have been developing courses in this area for several years, and I would enjoy hearing more about your experience in this field.” Then make the request, whether you want a formal informational interview or to meet for coffee.
Finish your letter by reiterating your request and offering your contact information. In some cases, you may wish to include a copy of your resume, but be clear that it is for informational purposes only.
Usually, when you send a letter of introduction on behalf of someone else, it’s to someone you already have a good relationship with – so you can be less formal. Still, the letter should include a few key elements.
Begin by stating that you’re sending the letter to introduce the individuals, and summarize how you know the person you’re introducing. For example, “I’m writing to formally introduce you to my friend Dave Smith, a colleague from my days at XYZ Company. Dave is an excellent marketing professional with almost 20 years of experience.” Then, explain why you are making the introduction, whether it is to help with a job search, insight into an industry or an informational interview.
End the letter with the contact information for the person you’re introducing and a request that your contact get in touch. If you are close friends, a more personal note is also appropriate. You can also include a resume or other documents.
Letters of introduction should always be short and to-the-point. Because they aren’t formal job applications, they can be sent via email. However, as with any business correspondence, be sure to very carefully edit and proofread the note before you send it. If the letter results in a meeting or other help, don’t forget to send a handwritten thank you note to your contact.
An adjunct instructor at Central Maine Community College, Kristen Hamlin is also a freelance writer and editor, specializing in careers, business, education, and lifestyle topics. The author of Graduate! Everything You Need to Succeed After College (Capital Books), which covers everything from career and financial advice to furnishing your first apartment, her work has also appeared in Young Money, Lewiston Auburn Magazine, USA Today, and a variety of online outlets. She's also been quoted as a career expert in many newspapers and magazines, including Cosmopolitan and Parade. She has a B.A. in Communication from Stonehill College, and a Master of Liberal Studies in Creative Writing from the University of Denver.