Advice From 1517: How to Get a Killer Intro

We intro’d one of our founders to an investor of ours and now they are best buds!

One of the biggest benefits of working with any person or firm is the introductions that they can make for you to people who could become potential team members, customers, investors, friends, etc.

As a firm that builds a lot of relationships with people, we put most of our time into creating those relationships and maintaining them.

So, when you ask for an intro, we expect you to do some of the heavy lifting in part to show that the intro is actually important to you, and in part because we can’t possibly spend a majority of our time crafting emails.

And a good intro is a craft, an art.

Even just a small amount of thoughtfulness and effort go a long long way.

When people request intros, I ask for a specific note to forward to the person that they’d like to speak with and why. Below are examples of poorly done emails and great emails that I’ve received.

Don’t do this:

Subject: <Company> Intro
Can you introduced me to <Firm> as discussed?
<Company blurb and bio>
Intro deck: <link>
Thanks,
<Founder>

~~

Ok, so let’s take a closer look above. What’s wrong with this intro? First off, the subject line is not specific enough. I have found that putting a person’s first name in the subject line does wonders for replies. So above, I’d have Sbj: <Person’s First Name> — Intro to <Founder’s Name>?

The single line about wanting to talk to the firm “as discussed” is not specific enough. You could put any firm in there — we all like to think we’re special snowflakes, so make us feel good that we’re not just any other firm and better yet, have a specific reason to talk to someone since time is a scarce resource. Additionally “introduced” is a typo or autocorrect. Proof read your intros!

I left out the company blurb above, but it was far too long. Keep it to three sentences at most.

Re: Linking the deck. I am conflicted on this, sometimes it works out well, but sometimes it hurts founders because if a deck isn’t geared for your audience, the investor (you want the intro to) may say that it’s not for them off the bat. Also, if you’re linking to a deck, as nice as it is to see who sees it, people don’t like knowing they are tracked. We recommend a pdf. Your mileage may vary.

Good intro text:

Sbj: <Company> requesting introduction to <Person>.
Hi Danielle,
It was great meeting with you and Mike today!
As you know, <the founder’s company bio — two sentences>.
I know we chatted about <Person> and her involvement in Detroit. It’d be great to chat with her about her experience with entrepreneurs in Detroit! Could you introduce?
Best,
<Founder>

This is a solid intro to forward. It’s specific, the person knows why the founder wants to chat. It’s well written. It’s brief and easy to execute on.

Super great intro:

Subj: Intro to <Person>?
Danielle & Mike,
Thanks for catching up today! Always appreciate it.
As you know, after I sold my first company to ____, and did X,Y, Z.
Now, at <founder’s company name>, we’re building <bio — two sentences>.
I wanted to reach out to see if you can make an introduction to <Person>? I’m familiar with <their firm> given my NYU days, but I’d love to be connected and learn more about their fund. I know they have a mission to back companies that are focused on making a large impact on real-world problems, so think its very aligned with us.
Thanks,

To me this is the icing on the cake intro. The founder talks about themselves first and shows their past ability to execute, then goes on to the company, lists specific reasons for the intro, shows that they have some knowledge about the person and why an intro here is a good fit. It’s brief but very solid.

This is the type of intro I love to forward on. When someone writes a great intro like this, I’m also inspired to include my own recommendation on why to take a call/meeting with said person.

So, if someone at 1517 is making an intro for you, do your best to put some effort and thoughtfulness in. It goes a long way in reflecting on you positively and getting that intro faster.

(Update as of Nov 2018: Read my part 2 of what to do with your intro)

Onward and upward,

Danielle

1517 Fund supports companies led by young founders. You can check out our portfolio here. If you’re a hacker, maker, scientist working on building your future and want to get in touch, contact us here. We support teams with mentorship, funding ($1,000 grants, pre-seed, and seed funding), and membership of our community of thousands of young people and mentors.