Networking

An Efficient and Effective Way to Ask for an Introduction

An Efficient and Effective Way to Ask for an Introduction
Image credit: Pixabay
Guest Writer
Entrepreneur, Investor, Managing Director of Techstars in NYC
4 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

I get asked to make many introductions. I don't mind. I love it actually, because my job is to create a bigger network, to connect the dots.

The first rule of any intro is do your homework, and make me do as little work as possible. The best ask looks like this:

Subject: Intro to X at Y?
Body: Please intro me to X (his/her LinkedIn) at company Y. I am looking for (job / mentorship / biz dev / investor).

When you make the ask efficient, and provide a link to the person's LinkedIn profile and a reason for connection, you not only save my time, you are showing me that you are doing the work.

Related: Whatever You Do, Do NOT Screw Up an Intro

Once I agree to the intro, I am likely to reach out to the other person to confirm they are OK with it (double opt-in via @fredwilson). To do this, I would need a paragraph description of what you are looking for, or I may ask you for a clean email that I can forward and add my bits on top.

If this is a mentorship introduction (I do a lot of these for Techstars companies), my ask would be that the person commits to a 15-minute call. Being clear about the purpose -- mentorship/feedback and the ask to do a 15-minute call, which is the smallest unit of business commitment, is important and gets good results.

If this is a business development intro, I would make it clear right off the bat. Stating the purpose up front sets the expectations, and if the other person isn't interested they have a chance to opt out.

Finally, investor intros are probably the trickiest ones. 

Related: 8 Tips for Turning Email Introductions Into Actual Relationships

To start with, I won't do them if I don't know the company and/or the founders well. The reason is my intro carries weight, and when I recommend a company to a venture capitalist or an angel I want to know why this might be a fit. 

Sometimes I meet the company and I immediately think of an investor who might be interested. In those situations, I would offer an introduction myself, because it benefits both sides. That does not happen very often.

Now if we are working together on an introduction to a potential investor, much like with a business deal, it is important to explain why the investor should agree to the introduction. Two bits are proving to be effective in this regard -- a single paragraph about what the company does and their traction/background that clearly shows something interesting.

Second, a sentence about why this is a good fit for this particular investor -- they are interested in this space, this is their kind of stage of the company, it feels like they would connect with the founders, etc. Read more about investor introductions in this post by @davidcohen

The best introductions are thoughtful. You put in the work, you've done your homework and you get a great intro as a result.

This article was written by a member of the AlleyNYC contributor network. AlleyNYC is one of the world’s largest innovation hubs, helping foster the growth of startups in its flagship location in New York City. Entrepreneur Media is a partner and investor in AlleyNYC. If you would like to learn more about AlleyNYC and how to apply for membership visit here.

Related: Strategic Networking and How to Make the Most of Your Evenings

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