One of the things that can make or break a successful entrepreneur is the ability to network well. In addition to having a knack for the one-on-one conversation, business owners also need to learn how to turn a simple email introduction into a fruitful professional relationship.

For the purposes of instruction, let’s assume that a colleague of yours wants to put you in touch with a potential business partner who lives on the opposite coast. Let’s also assume that it’s clear to everyone involved that you are the one most likely to profit from the new relationship. Your colleague writes an email to both of you with a brief blurb explaining what you have in common and why she thought the two of you should be introduced.

What should you do next?

1. Send a follow-up email in short order.

Reply as soon as you can without sending a typo-laden response. This is not the time to play coy or wait three days to respond.  Leave that stuff for your awkward dating life, because in this situation a quick response doesn’t make you look too eager — it makes you look courteous and professional. Waiting days to reply could send the message you’re apathetic about the introduction or just really bad at replying to your emails.

2. After your initial response, don’t include the person who made the introduction in the email thread.

It’s polite to include everyone in your initial response to let your colleague know you’re thankful for the introduction and that your goal is to make the most of it. After that, it’s time to email your new acquaintance directly so that you can speak without the nagging feeling that someone’s always eavesdropping on your conversation. Besides, your acquaintance will be glad you’re not filling her inbox with messages that are irrelevant to her.

3. Remember that you’re still representing the person who introduced you.

Though your colleague may not be a part of the conversation for long, your interactions with the new acquaintance will reflect on her. Staying on top of your game ensures that she won’t regret making the introduction and increases your chances of receiving introductions in the future. Remember that a professional relationship is a two-way street. Look for ways that you can give back to your new acquaintance instead of just taking. This is even more important if you asked to be introduced.

4. Pay it forward.

There’s something to gain from being the person that makes introductions as well. When you recognize that certain people in your circles could benefit from working together, offer to make an email introduction.  Your colleagues will appreciate your willingness to help them and remember your kindness in the future. When writing that introductory email, just be sure to share a brief summary about each person that highlights the relevant points in their professional backgrounds.

Have you introduced or been introduced to a new colleague through email? What tips do you suggest for making the most of it?