Each week I get requests from DNA matches that say things like, “Hi! You’re a DNA match to me and I’d love to know how we’re related.” I always look forward to new connections and I’d like to make it easier for us to connect. Here are a few suggestions to help you effectively collaborate with your matches.
Which DATABASE is the match in?
Ancestry? 23andMe? Family Tree DNA? MyHeritage? GEDmatch?
You may also note other places you have tested and relevant identification information.
What TYPE of DNA match is it?
Y-DNA? Autosomal? Mitochondrial? (Hint: AncestryDNA and 23andMe tests are autosomal.)
What are the NAMES of TESTERS who match?
Please let me know which one of my kits matches which one of your kits. This is really important because I administer many!
“RE: FTDNA match between John Dolan and Bob Driscoll”
Is there known information about SHARED MATCHES?
“You also match my maternal cousin Daniel Dugan, so our match may be on my mother’s father’s line.”
Finally, I cannot stress this enough. PLEASE include your FAMILY TREE if you have one.
If you don’t have one, please try to make one with whatever information you have available. Be sure to include a note about the potential branch where you match if this information is known. Locations are especially useful. I prefer to include a six-generation compact family tree in the email. My chart is done in Excel but you can do yours however you like. A lot of people send links to Ancestry family trees. I prefer the “At-A-Glance” style of tree so that I don’t have to spend a lot of time digging around to view 5 or 6 generations.
Here is an example of an email to a match.
(Instructions and template for this Excel tree chart can be found here.)
Sometimes I include a note saying, “I’d really love to hear back from you. If you get this message but you are short on time or don’t understand how DNA works, please drop me a quick note to let me know. I’m happy to help!”
I typically don’t include information about shared segments but I might include the total shared cMs in an initial email. I have found more success keeping my first contact at a basic level that is understandable for people new to genealogy and DNA.