How Smart People Respond to Intro Emails

I send my fair share of introduction emails - usually solicited.  And more and more find myself on the receiving end - often unsolicited.  Doesn't really matter, I suppose.  I genuinely enjoy getting connected with new people.

Given the volume of these emails I process, I've learned the finer points of responding and moving the conversation from email to phone.  Here are examples of the wrong way and the right way to respond to an email intro.

The Wrong Way:

Nice to meet you Eric.  I'd love to steal about 15 to 20 minutes of your time to get your thoughts on how blah blah blah

Let me know if something works for you.  If it's convenient please feel free to grab a slot on my calendar here:

I received this one a few days ago - not the worst reply in the world, but could be much better.*  This person asked for the call...and then put the onus on me to schedule the call.  Plus, the email doesn't really convey to me how this call is worth my time.  Lastly, is massively annoying and off-putting.  

After I received this email, I made a point to tell all of our sales guys that they should respond to email introductions the right way.

The Right Way:

Thanks for the intro, Bo.  (Moved to bcc.)

Nice to meet you, Mark.  Would love to line up a chat to get acquainted and to share what we're building at Argyle.  In short - we do social media management with a focus on automation and conversion analytics.  Definitely think that there are some ways to we can be helpful to each other.

Here are a few days times that work for a call:

- Mon May 23 - 2pm to 3:30pm EST
- Wed May 25 - 2pm to 6pm EST
- Thu May 26 - 11am to 2pm EST

Let me know what day/time works and I'll send over an invitation.

Re: KFBS - I graduated from the full-time program in May 2009.  Based on your graduation year per LinkedIn, you might know my friend blah blah...

Hope to talk soon.


When I'm on the receiving end of a valuable email introduction, I do my best to close the phone call.  I frame what Argyle is all about, sell the conversation, make it dead simple for the other person to make it happen (just tell me a time and I'll do the work), and - whenever possible - try to make a personal connection.

Seriously - don't be lazy.  An email introduction can be solid gold.  Put in the effort to close the deal.  It pays off over time.

*I recognize that I might not be worth the effort of a more aggressive intro follow-up email.  :)

How To Build A Garden Arbor

Considering the enormous success of my "How to Install a Dishwasher" series (unfortunately no longer a 1st page Google result), I thought I'd share the scoop on my latest (somewhat significant) home improvement project - building an arbor over the gate to our backyard.

Here's the before photo:

Note the mature jasmine vines on either side of the gate. We planted these in Fall 2004 with plans to add an arbor so that they'd have somewhere to grow and also so that they would get more sun, which would in turn give us more lovely yellow blooms.

3 years later, I finally had so little to do that I actually built it.

I thought about taking down the gate, removing the posts, and adding new ones for a 4 post arbor. I opted not to because it would be hard to do so without killing my plants and because I had zero confidence in my carpentry ability. If I dug up the posts and then screwed up the new construction, then I would have been f'ed. Instead, I took a safer approach that left me an easy "put it back together" fall back plan, as I often do.

I went to Home Depot to buy the lumber for the project - 1 6X6, 2 2X6, and 2 2X2 - all 8 feet. I hoped that they could cut the 6X6 to size for me. No dice. Thus I was left with this:

Yes - I made 2 cuts on a 6X6 post with a 12 inch Stanley hand saw.

(Good thing I'm a beast with a 12 Stanley hand saw.)

As expected, the cuts took forever and ended up incredibly sloppy. Luckily, however, I'm not just a beast with a hand saw, but I'm also a genius. I cut the post on either end, thus leaving me the flat factory cuts for the joint. BAM!

Here's one of my posts balancing on the existing gate post:

So you can kinda see the easy way out if/when I muck it all up. I just plunk the caps back on the gate posts, clean up the sawdust, hide the lumber, and tell Kelly that I've been watching TV all day. The project never happened and my man ego remains intact.

17 hours later and 3 gallons of sweat later, I finished the other cut and braced the pieces together:

I was a little worried about the stability of the posts, but these metal thingies did the job. The pieces didn't match up perfectly, but close enough. I used wooden shims to balance the posts until they were level and added numerous screws to each brace.

Once the posts were up, I started working on the overhead piece. I borrowed Kelly's dad's jig saw make fancy cuts on either end of the 2X6 and used the lid from a jar of peanut butter to draw the curves.

If you look closely in the photo, you can see my practice cut on the end of the board, the pattern I traced on the board for the actual cut, and the lid from the peanut butter jar. (Choosy wanna-be carpenters choose JIF.)

Surprisingly, I didn't suck at this and, more surprisingly, I didn't sever my arm and bleed to death in my yard. In fact, I actually enjoyed it - despite the fact that it brought back memories of 8th grade shop class when I actually broke a jig saw in class. Scarring memories re-repressed, I made the cuts, cleaned up the edges with a file and some sandpaper, and attached the pieces.

While hanging them, I had to do a little math in my head to make sure that the facing boards centered on the posts. The simple subtraction should be a good warm up for the linear regressions and bond pricing problems in my near future.

Once the pieces were up, I cut the slats out of the 2X2s. After a little more math and a few more cuts with the hand saw, I screwed the slats in place and - BING! - I built an arbor:

For added effect, here is the dramatic view:

The project cost about ~$50 for the lumber and braces and about 5 hours of my afternoon, counting the trip to Home Depot and a lunch/Sun Drop break. We'll train the jasmine to grow up the posts and next spring we should have a lovely arch of green leaves and yellow blooms to welcome visitors to our backyard.

Dishwasher Update II

The Kenmore QuietGuard 5000* is functioning leak-free. I replaced the elbow connector mentioned previously and it worked like a charm.

I haven't bolted into the counter just yet because I'm paranoid that I'm going to have another leak. Also - I don't want to do everything all at once. This leaves me something to do this weekend when I'm milling around the house in search of a diversion.

To recap - I would have paid Sears $130 to have Mongo come out to install the dishwasher. Instead, I paid $3 for an elbow connector, $3 for some teflon pipe sealant, and $15 for a hacksaw that I unfortunately didn't get to use.

*I added the "5000" - thought that the name needed a little umph.

Dishwasher Update

I know there are many, perhaps dozens, perhaps even scores, of Boggs Bloggers on pins and needles awaiting the latest with the dishwasher.

I am happy to report that it is installed and functional.

However, there is a small leak around one of the pipes. I think I damaged the threads on the elbow connector while dismantling the assembly last night. I'll make another trip to Home Depot later this week to purchase a replacement connector and finish the job.

Also - much to my dismay - there was no hacksawing involved.

I'll post a recap - complete with a pictorial - when the work is done.

How To Install A Dishwasher

My dad Tommy and my brother Evan are both pretty handy when it comes chores around the house, fixing broken things, etc.

For whatever reason, that gene didn't end up in the mix for me.

I suppose I'm serviceable. I've installed a few light fixtures, painted lots of walls, fixed a few squeaky spots in the floor, and once replaced the starter on my old truck. However, it is always a struggle and I always seem to end up in pain, embarrassed, or cursing - usually all three.

Tonight, I began a fairly significant undertaking. Our dishwasher died about 2 months ago. I'm not exactly sure why it broke or how it is broken - it just stopped working one day. It is about 12 years old, so I guess it was about time for it go to.

We bought a new dishwasher this weekend and I'm attempting to install it myself. Why?

  • It would cost $130 to have some mongoloid from Sears install it.

  • I'm just as smart as they are.

Step 1 - remove the old dishwasher. Enjoy the pictorial below.

Behold my old dishwasher. It took about 45 minutes to figure out how to jigger it away from its little cubby hole. Note the pile of dirty dishes on the counter awaiting the new Kenmore - scheduled for pick-up at Sears tomorrow evening.

This is where my dishwasher used to me. Much like the Internet, I find it easiest to conceptualize dishwashers as a series of tubes:

  • At the top left, you'll note the drainage tube. This is where the waste water goes.

  • At the bottom left, you can see the hot water tube. This is how the hot water gets to the dishwasher to clean the dishes.

  • Lastly, on the bottom right, you can see the electricity tube.

The electricity tube was the hardest nut to crack. Just before I knocked a hole in the sheet rock under the counter - both out of frustration and to find the plug - it dawned on me that it would be best just to un-couple the wires in the connection box. Here is a closer look at the electricity tube, with wires exposed:

I'm pretty sure this is the broken part. It is called the supply valve. I'm leaving it in a pot overnight because it is dripping water. (I tried to detach and was unsuccessful.)

Tomorrow, I'll hacksaw the pipe, attach an elbow connector, reconnect the pipes, tubes, and such to the new dishwasher, and that will be that. The machine does the dishes, I watch the TV - just like it is supposed to be.

Tune in tomorrow for the exciting conclusion!