This is not a new topic. In fact, many people agree about the importance of the methods that should be used to make Angel intros. However, it’s something I continue to see entrepreneurs struggle with. I get hundreds of emails in my inbox that I try to conquer daily (except for that one time when I declared email bankruptcy...but that’s a subject for another blog). The majority of these emails are requests for introductions and connections to my network: “Can you connect me with……” or “Do you know any Angels or VCs I can talk to about….”.
I’ll get to the best way to make an introduction; but, first, I want to break down a couple of crucial ideas you should think about before you make the request.
Don't freak out if you get a noncommittal response from someone like me. Often, I am hesitant to be prescriptive and pushy in making intros. After all, I’m an Angel, not a fund manager. Noncommittal responses are not necessarily rejections.
Angels aren't VCs. Angels operate in their own worlds. The best they can really do is introduce you to funds that they’ve committed to. Not all Angels come with financial backgrounds or from Silicon Valley. A lot were lucky or talented (or both). I was lucky to be at a company that experienced rapid growth and tremendous success (AOL). I didn’t develop my network of funds by starting or building my company through raising my own capital.
Social Venture Angels are a different crowd. I can introduce you to my friends at Investor’s Circle, Toniic or Rocky Mountain Ventures Club, aka other Angels in the social venture space. For typical Social Venture Angels, it is not their full-time gig; and, in general, they are likely to be more low-key than most folks. Social Venture Angels tend to create portfolios around their areas of passion that address complex systems problems. Do your homework; and know you are a good fit for these folks, before you ask me to make a connection.
Hesitancy isn't a bad thing. Even though I’m busy, I want to help you out because I liked your pitch, enjoyed our lunch, or had a great conversation about your company/idea at my kid’s football game. I may be hesitant because I may not have had time to do proper due diligence and, therefore, am not ready to make a commitment. Remember that making an introduction implies an endorsement.
Now the important part… the best way to ask for an introduction. Here’s the PeakChange secret sauce laid out in a 3 step process.
- You send me an email you know I can just forward on to your introduction of choice. Include a short preamble that gauges interest. Attachments of decks and pitches can be included (as long as they are short and PDFs).
- I ask the person you would like to be introduced to if they are interested in connecting. This is key. Only if the person I am forwarding your email to is interested in engaging with you will I make the connection. I do not do blind intros. Well, with one exception: Luni Libes, Founder and Managing Director of Fledge (because he is so responsive and innovative and, to my knowledge, has been happy to talk to anyone I refer).
- When you get the response, put me on Bcc. And, never hit “reply all” about scheduling. The ball is now in your court.
I’m happy to help. Please remember, you can help me to help you by being prepared, efficient, and patient when you ask me for an introduction. And, once the introduction has been made, do me proud, whatever the outcome.