I know this post has been written before, but this issue comes up so frequently, that I can’t be doing any harm by writing it again. A variation can be found on Mark Suster’s How to Ask for Help Favors and Intros post, but his goes into a lot more detail — this post focuses on just two key parts of the introductions process. And Tony Wright’s How to Ask for an Introduction post is probably where I mentally stole this from (he tweeted a reminder, and I do remember reading and loving it).
Many times per week, I’m asked to make introductions for people or startups. I’m happy to do them, but the askers need to know that they truly do pile up. If you don’t make them easy for the person you ask, you really lower the likelihood that we can help you.
So, here’s my advice:
1) Make sure that I know you and/or your product well enough to make the intro. If it isn’t a deep connection, then you’re actually putting my reputation at risk by asking me to do this for you. And I don’t always have the time to get to know you well enough. It sounds harsh, but it’s true. So, focus your introduction requests on people who will rave about you. If you don’t know any of those people well, then you’re putting the cart before the horse — instead, start developing some of those relationships first (read Lines not Dots — another great Suster post).
2) Make it very easy for me to make the introduction. In fact, make it idiot-proof. I always ask people to “write the introduction for me, and write it as if you’re me, introducing you”. That’s not (just) about saving me time. It’s because it allows you to put the introduction into context (i.e. you saw they invested in startup/industry x which has some similarities to what you’re doing), link to any demos (people love functioning sites/apps), include any attachments, and include any imminent travel plans when you’ll be in their neighborhood (even if you’re lying, and will book the trip as soon as they say yes).
That’s it. Repeat steps #1 and #2 above and your requests for introductions will go much better.
p.s. Here’s another great post on this topic from Roy Bahat at Bloomberg Beat.