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Know When to Walk Away Don't ask venture capitalists for referrals if they say they're not interested.

By Brad Feld

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

As a venture capitalist, I receive a steady stream of e-mail from entrepreneurs looking for funding for their businesses. I'm happy to receive these e-mails and try to respond to all of them. When they ask for advice, I try to quickly point them to something I've written or give a focused answer. When it's about a potential new investment, I determine quickly whether I'm interested. If I am, I ask for more info and engage more deeply. If I'm not, I politely respond that it's not my thing.

In some cases, I never hear from the person again. In others, I receive a short e-mail that says something akin to "thanks for your consideration." Occasionally, someone reacts negatively and goes off on a rampage about how venture capitalists are the scourge of the universe, how they stifle innovation by not supporting entrepreneurs and how I probably even kick my dog on a regular basis. This approach rarely elicits a response from me and is not particularly effective.

However, I've noticed one thing that happens about 25 percent of the time: The person I have politely declined asks me for a referral. This takes a number of forms, including the direct question "Can you refer me to another investor who would be interested in funding me?" as well as the less direct "Do you have any suggestions for people I should be talking to about my project?"

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