How to Write a Letter of Introduction All business plans must include a personal greeting of some sort. Here are some suggestions of what you should say.
This is part 8 / 8 of Write Your Business Plan: Section 6: Getting Your Business Plan to Investors series.
Your business plan is done, and it's time to send it out. What's the next step? A letter of introduction should be emailed (or mailed) to whomever you would like to read it. In the current business world, sending unsolicited, unanticipated business plans with a mere cover letter will typically not get your plan read. Not only are most people too busy to read whatever comes across their desk or lands in their inbox, but they also do not want to be sued someday for stealing your ideas, even if they never read your plan.
Your letter of introduction is your way of asking them if they would be interested in reading your business plan. In the letter, you explain why you have selected them and what you have to offer in a brief, compelling manner.
You should also explain generally what you're looking for—an investor, a loan, a long-term supplier relationship, or something else. Often, this will be obvious from the circumstances. The introductory letter provides a valuable forum to explain why you're contacting this person.
If you've received a personal referral, you'll want to include who gave you the referral early on, probably in the first sentence following the salutation. When emailing the individual, you might even put the referral in the subject line. Never underestimate the power of a personal referral from a friend, colleague, or acquaintance. It may not land you an investor, but it gets your foot in the door.
Some investors (VCs or even angels) request plans on their websites. Read the website and make sure you follow its guidelines. For example, if it says to send a plan of no more than 20 pages, do not send a 42-page plan.
Make a Personal Connection, But Don't Force It
In a world of "who you know" and networking, many of the people you will be sending to are referred by others. In some cases, you may even have some personal connection to the person other than a referral. For instance, perhaps you once met this individual while networking. Perhaps you even worked together at a company or organization.
A shared interest, such as a hobby, is of less value, but it may be worth mentioning if your shared interest is unusual or marked by a close degree of identification among those who share it. For instance, it may not mean much to point out that you, like the reader, are a fan of professional basketball. It may sound like you are grasping at straws to make a connection. However, this might be worth mentioning if you have competed as crew members on long-distance ocean-racing sailboats. In any case, the cover letter, not the plan, is the place to bring up this personal connection.
State the Terms
Finally, the letter of introduction may detail the terms under which you are presenting your plan. You may, for instance, say that you are not submitting the plan to any other investor. You may explicitly point out that you currently seek financing from several sources, including this one. If there is a deadline for responding to your plan, if you wish to stress that the plan is confidential and must be returned to you, or if you would like to ask the recipient to pass it on to someone else who may be interested, this is the place to do so. Somewhere between sending the introductory letter and sending the plan—if the person agrees to see it—is where you can email a nondisclosure agreement if you plan to include one.
The letter of introduction gives you a chance to provide updated, expanded, or other vital information that isn't in your plan. But mostly, it is a letter of introduction designed to whet their appetite.