How to ask me (and others) for an intro

I get a lot of asks to do an intro, and I do A TON of intros every week. I don’t mind, I love it actually, because my job is to create a bigger network, to connect the dots 😉

The first rule of any intro is do your homework, and make me do as little work as possible. The best ask looks like this:

Subject: Intro to X @ Y?
Body: Please intro me to X (his/her LinkedIn) at company Y. I am looking for (job / mentorship / biz dev / investor).

When you make the ask efficient, and provide a link to the person’s LinkedIn profile and a reason for the connection, you not only save my time, you are also showing me that you are doing the work.

Once I agree to the intro, I am likely to reach out to the other person to confirm they are okay with the intro (double opt-in via @fredwilson). To do this, I would need a paragraph description of what you are looking for, OR I may ask you for a clean email that I can forward and add my piece on top of.

If this is a mentorship introduction (I do a lot of these for Techstars companies), my ask would be that the person commits to a 15-minute call. Being clear about the purpose – mentorship/feedback and the ask to do a 15-minute call, which is the smallest unit of business commitment – is important and gets good results.

If this is a biz dev intro, I would make that clear right off the bat. Stating the purpose up front sets the expectations, and if the other person isn’t interested, they have a chance to opt-out.

Finally, investor intros are probably the trickiest ones.

To start with, I won’t do them if I don’t know the company and/or the founders well. The reason for this is my intro carries weight, and when I recommend a company to a VC or an angel I want to know why this might be a fit.

Sometimes I meet the company and I immediately think of an investor who might be interested. In those situations, I would offer an introduction myself, because it benefits both sides. That does not happen very often, but it does happen.

Now, if we are working together on an introduction to a potential investor, much like with a business deal, it is important to explain why the investor should agree to the introduction. Two bits have proved to be effective in this regard – a single paragraph about what the company does, and their traction/background that clearly shows something interesting.

Secondly, a sentence about why this is a fit for this particular investor – they are interested in this space, this is their kind of stage of the company, it feels like they would connect with the founders, etc. Read more about investor introductions in this post by @davidcohen.

To sum up, the best introductions are thoughtful. You put in the work, you’ve done your homework, and you get a great intro as a result.

6 comments

  1. […] Reprinted by permission. […]

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  2. […] Alex Iskold writes on his blog about how to ask for an introduction. […]

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  3. Jordan · ·

    Alex,

    Are you being literal with that phrasing? It feels overly direct to me, like the requestor feels entitled to the intro and takes for granted that you will carry it out her request. It also omits why the requestor thinks that the other person will be interested in giving a job / mentorship / biz dev opportunity / investment.

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  4. Hey Jordan, thanks for the note.

    I am being literal actually, but you are right, this does not work if we don’t know each other well.
    This is specifically for entrepreneurs that I work with and ask me for intros freely.

    If I don’t know you, the bar is much higher or basically just not possible. If I don’t even know you, how could I make an intro. First need to build trust / have a relationship.

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  5. Your post reminded me of something I wrote a while back: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/235708

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  6. […] Alex Iskold: How to ask me (and others) for an intro […]

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