This protocol is super simple, and allows for very efficient transfer of information without putting people in uncomfortable situations.
Either way, it will be awkward, and checking in with someone to see if they can be introduced just adds another e-mail to the chain.
Maybe I'm just overly choosy with who I introduce, but I have never had someone not respond, or say "No, I don't want to be introduced to that person." It just always seems to add an unnecessary step.
It all comes down to chemistry and expectations. Engineering types generally appreciate candor, a somewhat unique trait, but it's definitely gaining some traction with other groups. I don't think many investors appreciate it, but that doesn't mean a cold email won't work -- but it better be extraordinary.
Actually, I don't consider "asking someone back to their place right away" as either positive or negative thing because I don't understand the motives. Sorry, this kind of interpersonal stuff simply goes beyond me. ;/ But I assume that if that is important to someone, I don't see a reason for that person not to be candid about it.
I don't think many investors appreciate it, but that doesn't mean a cold email won't work -- but it better be extraordinary.
It's more that I see no reason for why this should matter when many business people don't even consider the effects that their actions or decisions have on human communities, changing the lives of countless other people. So many of them don't give a shit about what difference it makes when they decide to do something, but when someone else deals with them, many of them dwell on superficial veneer rather than on substantial matters proposed? Sounds very much like hypocrisy to me.
Being candid about something usually isn't the best way to accomplish your goal. If your goal is to make a sale, and you communicate with them in a way that is too different than what they're used to, you simply won't hear back. Forget ever getting a sale if they won't even talk to you. Understanding how people perceive your communications, and using that to your advantage is an important life skill.
You mean ask a specific question? Or is this silicon valley jargon?
Through the power of The Googles I now realize he could have been using the stock market form of 'ask'. It makes some sense since you're asking for an investment. Not that I like it any better...
The price a seller is willing to accept for a security,
also known as the offer price. Along with the price, the
ask quote will generally also stipulate the amount of the
security willing to be sold at that price.
The meaning is slightly more specific than a generic word like "request" or "desire". It implies something specific, focused, and prepared.
'give a specific ask' and 'ask a specific question' are therefore equivalent, with the exception that the former looks like it was written by a 5th grader.
"Can I have a cookie?" is a question, the cookie is the ask. An ask is implicitly tangible or substantial.
"What's the weather today?" is a question, it doesn't really have an ask, since the item being demanded is trivial. It exists in business jargon specifically to separate minor requests "can you send me that file?" from substantial exchanges "can we update this report to include the last two quarters?"
An "ask" is more "demand" than "question", without the negative connotations of demanding things from people.
Looked it up... most dictionaries don't have a noun form of 'ask', though macmillan has a separate page just for it. (It's also a Scandinavian myth about the first man made from an ash tree, but that's probably not the intended use from the OP)
If you were to request a cookie, you would say "Can I have a cookie?". The entire question is the request, where "cookie" is the ask.
It seems like 'ask' is a verb, not a noun - in which case it is synonymous with 'request'.
People seem to be arguing that it's a 'more specific' form of 'request', but I can't really see how you could make a nonspecific request.
Edit: Ha! I even confused myself... 'Ask' here is indeed a noun - like 'request' when used as a noun - but it still seems to refer to be entire request, not just the object (which is the point I was trying to make).
As to the "more specific" bit, I think people mean it has a slightly different meaning than a request.
An ask isn't "an act of asking", it's the object/subject of a request. So it's not really a synonym, IMO.
Which mostly goes to show that it's not a word with a definition as we think of it -- it's a word that displays familiarity with the tech scene and is used as a social signal.
Also, I'm not sure Hacker News denizens can really complain too much about other people's jargon. Among many others, we inflicted "blog" and "tweet" on the world.
Fighting this kind of tradition will be an uphill struggle. A losing battle. A tall order. (For those still in primary school, those are all different ways of saying "a big ask", by the way.)
It's a real shame that the article's author had to drop this particular clanger, because the article provides sound advice in a succinct fashion.
Just because it is new to you does not make it useless or wrong. English grammar evolves; that's part of what makes it such an expressive and useful language. Another recent example:
Eg Vince cable saying "the royal mail was not under priced" leads to the response "thats a big ask"
Its more a political slang/jargon term that formally correct English.
Jesus I laughed hard at this. Thank you.
edit: ah, you're gcv :)
Of course, prescriptive grammar is for the birds, anyway.
Team A are X points down and given the injury to STAR_PLAYER for them to come back now is a big ask
There is no 'ask' on its own and no one would refer to the ask on it's own. The entire phrase is an idiom. An ugly sounding one, but one that's here to stay, like 'day of' and 'going forward'.
More precisely, what purpose does moving Mark to BCC, and then acknowledging that and addressing him in the letter, serve? Why not just exclude him from the conversation completely, or leave in CC if you're still addressing him?
Another instance where it is useful is when asking a question at a mail list but asking that anyone who answers only addresses the you not the whole email list.
Just send the email with the list in BCC, and that's gonna be automatic.
(personally I have rules that catch this sort of behavior so it doesn't bother me, but I've seen it happen).
I wouldn't be surprised if such a question goes on to be ignored.
Subject: [survey] what's your favorite version?
What's your favorite version of foo? Write me off-list
and I'll post back to summarize.
> If you ask a question, be sure to post a summary. When doing so, truly summarize rather than send a cumulation of the messages you receive.
I'm not sure how much the investment community uses LinkedIn, but it seems like the closest thing to a solution right now.
1) Comes across as impersonal to the person I'm contacting.
2) LinkedIn is often checked infrequently at best.
I'm sure any solution would have same obstacles to overcome, but this is why I don't use it.
I disagree. The "busy person" didn't ask to be put on the spot to decide whether the inviter's social capital is insufficient to overcome their busy-ness or lack of interest in the intro or whatever reason they have for declining, so you shouldn't put them in that spot.
Assuming it's laziness totally misses the social dynamics.
Knowing what information (is appropriate) to share with whom is not only not dishonest, it respects other people's privacy, and is a key life skill for effectiveness.
Consider the case of a friend looking for a job. If they come to me asking for an introduction, they may be open with me about things they wouldn't tell a stranger in the first minute of contact. E.g., concerns about the target company, fears they might not measure up, things going on in their life. It's hard for me to know what they don't want shared, I want to minimize the risk a violation of trust, and I don't want to guess at what the recipient might have an issue with. So I'll always write my own intro or ask for something I can forward.
Also, if someone dumps some unwelcome request from a pal in my lap, I'd be irritated that I had to do the work of bowing out. It's their friend, not mine, so it shouldn't be my problem. For that reason, I always ask permission to do an intro unless I have strong reason to believe the intro would be welcome. (E.g., if somebody told me they're looking for developers, I'll do intros without confirming an interest in each specific person.)
That board was not well-functioning.
Here's a simplified view of my email life: I have a couple hundred people (the intermediaries) I have worked with before or am friends with who each work with or talk to many entreprenuers. Each of these people knows dozens of investors. When they like an entrepreneur, they try to decide which investors would be interested in that entrepreneur. This isn't easy because angel investors change what types of things they are looking for and whether they are looking for anything at all all the time (based on what they have already invested in, on how much time and money they currently have to invest, etc.) They then send out intros to many investors. I get about a thousand of these a year.
Now, there are two types of intros. The most common is "[Founder] is looking for an investor for his company, which looks like [company]." The second is "[Founder] asked to be specifically introduced to you." If the latter, I always take the introduction. If the former I filter for only the stuff I might actually invest in. This saves me time because--since I have a pre-existing relationship with the intermediary--I can say something like "I don't invest in companies like [company], I am looking for [thesis] right now." This takes 30 seconds. If I was to reply to the founder, it would take a lot longer not to be rude. Rudeness is discouraging (I know, I raised money for my own company, lots of investors were rude), and it burns bridges. If an entrepreneur told an intermediary she thought I was rude in my reply, that intermediary may no longer send me anything. I know I, when I've been the intermediary, have stopped sending people stuff because the feedback from the entrepreneur was that they were rude.
Also, the whole point of the intermediary is to save the entrepreneur time. The intermediary sends out a score of emails asking who is interested, and some smaller number reply. The intermediary then makes the connection. Now the entrepreneur only has to deal with the people who have self-qualified as potentially interested. This saves them time (and also puts them in a slightly better negotiating position.)
The only negative to this process is the time it takes for the intermediary. I am an intermediary as much as, or more than, I am a recipient of these intros. It takes time. I've often thought about how to automate much of this introducing work: deciding which people would be most likely to want the intro, sending the emails, tracking replies, making the intros, and tracking which intros worked to feed back into the process. I suppose this is what software like Salesforce does for salespeople, but I've never found a personal CRM that can do this for me. Would love to have one.
As the OP rightfully suggests, it's the little things in etiquette that are important.
I'm sure the Bcc behavior was common as well with paper memos, but I suspect the name only appeared with the invention of email. 
The current use of bcc more or less contradicts that and has taken on a whole new meaning.
Some examples (admittedly, these are how they are used in my workplace and life, other people may perceive these differently, which is also interesting):
- BCC has an interesting side-effect of being able to drop somebody from the conversation, but notify them of that fact at the same time.
- CC is sometimes used as a "heads up". It means "I'm interested in you reading this, but I'm not asking you to do anything right now."
- To is explicit "I would like you to read this, and there's probably some action you need to do."
That said, these are used in my workplace so these rules don't really apply when sending more informal mails between family members and the like. I have tended to use CC at home when sending emails to teachers, keeping my spouse in the loop.
You can't really deliver the same messages within a Facebook conversation or a Google Chat. I think Twitter has some potential since the "to" line is fluid, but I treat the platform as read-only and find it extremely chaotic and unorganized.
It bothers me that Gmail combines the To and CC recipients into a single line. You have to do some investigating to figure out who's on To and who's on CC.
CC and BCC are practical parts of communication but only formalized in a technical manner (beyond their physical carbon counterparts) in email, but we certainly engage in conversations which are of an "FYI" nature all the time.
Source: I am a communications nerd both from a technical and historic perspective.
bcc: recipient1@, recipient2@, . . .
It's more like making a tape recording of a conversation you are having with someone and playing it to someone else who wasn't part of the conversation. And without the person being recorded knowing that you did that.
I'd love to hear how the language-sensitive hacker news crowd deals with this issue, and also what tortured constructions you've seen recently. Currently I'm using "pleased to make your acquaintance" or "thanks Jim for the intro", but neither of those is completely satisfactory.
It's silly to think that there is a "one size fits all" email intro framework. Different contexts require different amounts of background information and introducer participation.
Really, the greater theme at play is the need for people to think more about how their actions (here, nearly effortless electronic ones) effect others. Sending email intros without understanding the benefits and detriments to both sides is impolite at best and downright rude at worst.
The Golden Rule applies, even to email.
It seems that the likelihood of the email being read increases the shorter email is. At the same time, I have found the shorter the email, the harder it is to write.
You can learn a lot about people by observing their etiquette.
(I am pretty sure what the first comment to this comment will be)
People still generally want to help people succeed. But people are also busy. I do intros like this pretty much any time I talk to two people who are likely to benefit by talking. I'd guess I average 2 a week.
I've been in San Francisco 14 years, and I think this place is even easier to navigate now than when I got here. Few cold call anymore, but that's more because we've got better things than phones. Meetups, conferences, mailing lists, on-line groups, and Twitter all allow people to connect in ways much better than strangers using a loud mechanical bell to interrupt somebody in the middle of whatever they were actually trying to do.
Doubt it. Rents and house prices are at a record high due to horrible NIMBY regulations and no one's doing a damn thing about it. Startup equity slices are tiny, and the old Silicon Valley guarantee (that working for a startup meant the founders would take a personal interest in setting you up to be a founder in your next gig) is long gone. VCs are funding lots of well-connected rich idiots, but if you don't come from the "right" social milieu, it's nearly impossible to get.
What used to be a quirky and different society is now a shitty knock-off of Manhattan that copies its worst parts but none of its good ones.
Few cold call anymore, but that's more because we've got better things than phones.
s/call/email/g. You know what I mean. Obviously calling someone you don't know is considered pretty rude these days.
There's some truth to what you're saying, but it has always been the case in complicated industries. It's the cost of doing business. It reminds of this brilliant quote by Robert Henri:
In new movements the pendulum takes a great swing, charlatans crowd in, innocent apes follow, the masters make their successes and they make their mistakes as all pioneers must do. It is necessary to pierce to the core to get at the value of a movement and not be confused by its sensational exterior.
That being said, in my four years in SV I've asked hundreds of people for advice and help, and I honestly can't remember anyone ever saying no. The collaborative spirit is very much alive, people are just busy and it helps immensely to have some basic respect for their time.
While it is harder to cold call for sure (the fact that you are referred to someone means they will at least read and/or listen to what you have to say) not being referred is not a show stopper at all.
You just have to be more creative in your approach in order to stand out.
If you don't have that skill simply practice at it with less valuable targets to start. Make your mistakes there and learn from them what works and what doesn't.
I've been cold calling from back before the internet. But one of the first things I learned from when I used to get free press by writing to reporters was to start out the email by telling them what a great article they wrote as opposed to telling them something that they could add to the story that they might have missed.
The emails where I contacted them that way almost always got a reply. So I continued with that formula and got a pretty good amount of major press writeups (NYT, WSJ etc.)