Startup-Craft: Requesting and Making Introductions

meetingI like making introductions. I know some entrepreneurs who seem to do nothing but make introductions. It gives you a warm feeling inside because it is one of the easiest things you can do for another person, yet is one of the most impactful things you can do as a leader in your local startup community.

But often, I don’t really have enough info or background to make an effective introduction for you. So help me out!

Want me to make an introduction for you? Here is what I need:

1) Get to know me. I can’t really introduce you to someone else if I don’t really know you. That means I need to have (a) met you in person; (b) know something about your work quality and approach; (c) know that you’re a positive contributor to the startup community.

Don’t meet these criteria? Don’t worry! Keep at it. There are dozens of events, volunteer opportunities, committees and hundreds of other ways to get the contacts and experiences you need to get to know the folks you need to know and to network. Get out there and work those handshakes!

2) Give me a reason to introduce you. Don’t just contact me and say, “Introduce me to this person.” Um, OK. Probably not worth the effort for either of us. There needs to be an impetus – something that has sparked your interest and mine in order to justify the introduction.

Often times, this is a mutual interest that the other party has recently expressed, a mutual industry interest, a recent event, etc. Get creative. There’s always a reason to get introduced. You just have to find it!

3) Get the facts straight. It really is important that you check the details and provide them in your request, so the introducer is not forced to hunt around for info, spellings, associations, email addresses, etc.

Is this the right person? Is this how you spell their company name, or the name of the mutual friend you’re referencing? Is that the right article or event you’re referencing? Is that the correct URL? Sometimes people get these things wrong, which makes the introduction difficult and awkward. Make it easy!

4) Be patient. Making introductions is something that most people have time for AFTER they’ve done their regular work. It is a secondary activity. It may be an important secondary activity, but lets face it: It doesn’t pay the bills. So, if you ask for an introduction and are waiting for an introduction or a reply, don’t sweat it. Sometimes it just takes time.

5) Don’t take it personally. Sometimes, there just isn’t time, the moment isn’t right, the relationships or concepts don’t sync up. Whatever. Sometimes you don’t get the intro or there’s no response when you do. Don’t take it personally. There are lots of introductions to be requested and made. Move on quickly and don’t worry about it.

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This blog is dedicated to providing advice, tools and encouragement from one entrepreneur to another. I want to keep this practical and accessible for the new entrepreneur while also providing enough sophistication and depth to prove useful to the successful serial entrepreneur. My target rests somewhere between the garage and the board room, where the work gets done and the hockey stick emerges.