Investors are busy creatures. They struggle to filter out the volume of deals that reach them through all kinds of channels, each fighting for their time and checkbooks.
So investors look at how they heard about you as a key factor in whether they decide to follow up with you to learn more.
You always want to go through an introduction to a VC, rather than a cold email. Investors think if you want their attention enough, you'll find a way to network to them through someone they trust.
We do the same thing when we are targeting an investor or high profile advisor for Springboard. We find out who they know on LinkedIn, and ask 2 or 3 of our mutual connections for an introduction.
Tips to Optimize Your Response Rates for Investor Intros
An outsider might say that I'm addicted to expanding our Springboard network. I wouldn't disagree. Each new connection we bring in means new opportunity for everyone in it, so for me, recruiting a new investor to our cause is a big win.
I've made my share of mistakes in asking for intros and following up on them. Here are nine things I've learned that have increased my chances of landing a new connection. I hope they'll work for you, too.
Be concise. Include a maximum of 5 sentences and be specific about why you want the intro. People read emails on small screens.
Show you've done your homework. Cite a blog or twitter post they've done. Make sure you fit their investment focus (è.g. stage, location) OR (if you know you don't) frame the intro as asking for advice.
Don't attach anything. Use Dropbox or another file-sharing service and include a URL to download an executive summary or pitch deck.
Assume the email will be forwarded. In the past I used to send template emails written from the point of view of my contact. Nearly every time, that email was just forwarded along with a cover note. Intros don't need to be fancy - you'll get someone's attention even if they click Fwd and write one line to make connection. An open door is an open door, even if it is just a crack.
Know the hierarchy of intros. Remember you are asking your mutual connection to stake their reputation on you. Depending on how they feel about you and the interests of your target, there is a range of ways someone will respond to your request for an intro (in order from good to bad):
- They make the intro with an endorsement
- They make the intro
- They give you the contact's email or phone to reach out directly and say you can use their name
- They tell you they will forward your email to their contact to ask for permission to introduce you, and actually forward your email
- They tell you they will forward your email to their contact to ask for permission to introduce you, and don't forward your email
- They tell you they don't feel comfortable making the intro (either because you aren't ready or they don't know the target well enough)
- They ignore your request
Follow up once you get the intro. Remember that once you get the intro, be the first to follow up to thank your contact, move them to bcc (to spare their inbox), and intro yourself to the investor.
Don't ask for too much. Show you are responsive but be careful what you ask for next. Many entrepreneurs jump in and ask for a one hour meeting. Respect the investors time and suggest a brief call only if they are interested in learning more.
Update the person that introduced you. Let them know if the investor doesn't respond to you and ask if they can ping them with a follow up. Let them know if you do end up speaking with the investor and what the result was. Close the loop and you'll be more likely to get another intro (everyone loves when their intros are appreciated and lead to value-add).
Don't spam Remember not to spam your target investor after you get the connection. If they don't respond right away, don't keep sending emails until they do. Be tactful. You can be politely persistent and aggressive without being annoying. If you are, you can be sure the friend who made the intro won't be helping you with another.