A guide on how to help them help you.
As former CEO of an online/offline commerce company and currently, as a venture capitalist, I ask for intros and consistently am being asked to make intros. Introductions lead to relationships, which are the lifeblood of the business world. The following are four tips on how to get busy people to make an intro for you.
- Be relevant and specific.Busy people have limited bandwidth and a limited supply of social capital. Don’t expect someone to make introductions for everyone that asks, and don’t expect introductions to, say, twenty other venture capitalist or business development people, who may be relevant. Before you approach someone for an intro, make sure you actually know them; an unsolicited email will not work. It’s hard to get someone to recommend a person or a business that they cannot vouch for personally.
When approaching me, for example, you should have a specific request and a reason behind it, e.g. “I would like to be introduced to John of XYZ Company as our product is complimentary to their current suite. Our offering can help make their most recent expansion into financial technology easier. We have proved it out with ABC Company and looking forward to doing the same.”
- Be complete. The person making the introduction will not know your business as well as you do. A targeted email with related material that can be easily forwarded to the relevant party to see if they are interested in connecting, which can be easily forwarded, is most efficient. It should not take more than ten minutes for the person making the introduction to craft their own message, which could be off target.
- Be patient. Many people, like me, will never make a blind introduction without first asking the recipient if they are open to the introduction. There are numerous reasons why someone may decline the request including conflicts of interest, someone on their team had already passed on the initial request, etc. Sometimes getting a response takes time, and excessive check-ins on an introduction request are a big turn-off.
- Be responsive. If you ask someone for an intro and they agree to make it, send a follow-up with any requested material in a timely fashion. Then, after the introduction is made, respond within twenty-four hours. Responsiveness will be a key factor in whether that person will make additional introductions for you in the future.
One of a venture capitalist’s most important roles is to connect relevant people to each other. If you request a relevant connection, provide related materials, and are patient and responsive throughout the process, you will win the hearts of VCs and the introductions will flow your way.
Kathleen Utecht is the Venture Partner at Core Innovation Capital. Previously, she was EIR/ Investor at Comcast Ventures and investor at WVP Ventures. Prior to her venture roles, Kathleen invested in and led Green Rock Entertainment, an online / offline commerce startup whose main product was Cahootie. Before her operational adventure, Kathleen was an investment banker in the financial services group of Raymond James and a graduate of General Electric Capital’s Financial Management Program. Kathleen holds a bachelor’s degree from Babson College and an MBA from the Wharton School.
Photo Courtesy of Dell [FLICKR]