This Is the Only Reliable Way to Get Valuable Investor Intros Expanding your network is the only way you'll meet the investors you need to grow your business.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
If you want investment dollars for your business, you need to meet people. But that's easier said than done, right? If you had throngs of investors filling up your inbox every day, you wouldn't be looking for ways to round up funding.
But I have some good news. You probably already have resources in place that can help get you there. Warm introductions are the key to generating investment dollars as in many cases, investors cannot take unsolicited pitches or introductions. If you can get mutual friends to connect you with the investors on your list, you stand a better chance of getting the funding you're seeking.
The best new tool in your funding toolbox is lead mining, which helps you get those crucial introductions. Lead mining is an organized way to help you mine your contacts to find mutual connections that can make those introductions. Using lead mining, you can close your funding round in weeks when it otherwise would have taken months.
This strategic guide will help you get started on your lead mining efforts.
Create a map
To start, you'll need to get a grasp of your entire network. LinkedIn will likely be the best tool for this, since this is where you can easily see not only your connections, but their connections, as well. At one time, you could generate this information through LinkedIn's InMaps, but that feature is ancient history.
One of the best third-party tools for this is Socilab, which outputs a map of your network and gives you the opportunity to see your macro groups. You can also see "nodes," which connect your various macro groups, and "outliers," which don't connect to your existing networks. Don't dismiss the outliers. Those people can be just the bridge you need to that investor that most of your network has never met.
Meet with 'super connectors'
Look over your network and try to identify the "super connectors." Once you've identified those within your network who can introduce you to the right people, it's time to get to work. Reach out and ask for a meeting, whether it's an offer to buy lunch or a request for a brief cup of coffee to catch up one morning.
Once you're face to face with the person, don't jump right in to ask for a favor. Instead, make an offer to help the other person with something. Ask questions to determine what that connection may be working on at the moment and offer to use your own resources to help.
Ask for the intro
After you've scratched your connection's back, it's time for a little return scratching. You'll want to be subtle about this. Nobody likes to feel as though they've been scammed into helping. Simply mention offhandedly that you're thinking about pitching an investor you've noticed they know and see what they say.
You'll immediately be able to gauge your connection's comfort level with your ask in that moment. That will give you the confidence to proceed. You may find that the connection initially claims he or she doesn't know the investor all that well, only to later get a phone call that they've mentioned your business or handed over your contact information to the person.
Repeat the process
Once you've achieved this first introduction, whether it lands investment dollars or not, it's time to move up the scale. Shoot higher with each introduction, looking for investors who stand to help move your business to the next level. If you've identified a dream investor, always go to that map to identify someone who can help you meet the person.
Don't forget to continue to expand your network. This will help you grow your focus from networking groups where you can meet potential investors and business partners to simply reaching out to meet others in your community. Everyone you add on LinkedIn, whether you meet them briefly at a national conference or they're someone you worked with years ago, has the potential to help you reach your funding goals.
Lead mining seems like a game because it is. The problem is, many people know how to play that game and, yes, they're looking for funding, too. Don't be afraid to be aggressive as you expand your network, since that will help you get the money you need to grow your business's bank account.