Over the last few years, I’ve requested and taken a ton of introductions & meetings. I’ve made a lot of mistakes and seen a lot of mistakes being made – Here are some tips I’ve picked up from various people and blogs along the way.
1. Do your research, don’t be lazy
Before you even request an introduction – make sure you’ve done your research. If you’re raising money for your mobile startup, don’t ask for introductions to any and all investors. Research the ones that are interested in mobile startups and then request introductions to those investors.
Also, read David Cohen’s blog post “Asking for Introductions“. The lazy way to ask for introductions puts the work of making connections on the person doing you the favor.
2. Double opt-in introductions
Double opt-in introductions means you ask both parties for permission to introduce them to the other. (Read Fred Wilson’s post about this subject: http://www.avc.com/a_vc/2009/11/the-double-optin-introduction.html) Being introduced to someone without consent puts everyone in an awkward and uncomfortable situation. The person who didn’t give consent will be annoyed and the person being introduced is automatically viewed in a more negative light.
3. Get the right person to make the introduction
I often run into people who are desperate to be viewed as “connectors.” Its easy to spot these people – they’re constantly dropping names and constantly offering to introduce you various people. You’re better off not getting an introduction than having these people be your first contact with a potential business partner/investor, etc. Its the equivalent of all the men/women your aunt keeps introducing you to – these suitors are always immediately viewed with a skeptical eye.
4. Be accommodating
If you’re the one asking for the meeting, be accommodating. This might seem obvious, but people fail this one all the time. “Hey ___, I’d love to get your feedback on my new startup – can you stop by my office in Harlem at 8am – thanks!”
5. Give opportunities to back out
When asking for a meeting, give people a graceful way to say no. For example: “Hey __, I know you’ve been busy with your product redesign, but do you have some time this week to chat about my new startup? If you’re swamped and this week isn’t good for you, I can ping you in a month or so when things cool down”. People have a hard time saying no. If they begrudgingly meet with you, its not likely they’ll be very helpful or be super excited to help you.
6. Don’t be deceptive
A few months ago, I turned down a meeting with someone looking for product feedback. Later that month, he emailed me saying that he had a potential client opportunity he wanted to discuss. When we met, it turned out there was no potential client opportunity – he just wanted to talk about his product and get feedback. I’m not sure what he was expecting, but I was annoyed – and not very helpful. Be clear about your intentions when asking for meetings.
I’m sure i’m missing a few things, but the points above have been top of mind lately. Watch David Tisch and his Basics talk, it includes everything you need to know.
david tisch’s basics