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. 😉

First rule of any intro is to 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 person’s LinkedIn profile and a reason for 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 that they are okay with the intro (double opt-in). 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 bits 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 it clear right off the bat. Stating the purpose upfront 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 is that 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 potential investor, much like with business deal, it is important to explain why the investor should agree to the introduction. Two bits are proving 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, feels like they would connect with the founders, etc.

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.

Reprinted by permission.

Image credit: CC by Royce Bair

About the author: Alex Iskold

Alex Iskold is the Managing Director of Techstars in New York City.

Previously Alex was Founder/CEO of GetGlue (acquired by i.tv),  founder/CEO of Information Laboratory (acquired by IBM), and Chief Architect DataSynapse (acquired by TIBCO).

Alex routinely writes about entrepreneurship and startups at Alex Iskold.

You are seconds away from signing up for the hottest list in New York Tech!

Join the millions and keep up with the stories shaping entrepreneurship. Sign up today.