Okay, so you’ve created a comprehensive list of investors you want to talk to. Now how the hell do you meet them?
A vanishingly small number of investors will look at any pitch — GoAhead ventures is one such firm. For most VCs, though, you’ll need to get your foot in the door to be heard.
Many investors prefer, and insist on, warm introductions. LinkedIn can be a powerful tool for doing research here: Check out your target firm’s LinkedIn page, then click on “People.” Here, you will see your first-degree and second-degree connections with everyone in the firm. If you happen to have a first-degree connection, that could mean they’ve met you and would remember you, or you’ve somehow caught their attention and now have a potential to reach them via a message, post or email. If not, it’s time to mine those second-degree connections.
A second-degree connection is when you and the investor you want to talk to have someone in common. If that person is in one of the company’s portfolio companies, you’ve hit pay dirt: Investors tend to prefer introductions from people they’ve already backed once. If you pause and think about that for more than 20 seconds, you’ll realize that’s problematic, but we’re here to get you in front of an investor not solve that particular problem.
In the rest of this article, we’ll discuss the art of the warm intro, and how to take matters into your own hands with cold outreach if you have to.
How to set up a warm introduction
Once you’ve identified who can introduce you, make it as easy as possible for them to do just that. Reach out to your mutual acquaintance and ask how strong their connection is with the investor. At this point, it is not a bad idea to ask if there are other investors you should be talking to.
Engage this person and ask them politely if they could introduce you to the investor you’re targeting or someone else who could be suitable. Once this person agrees to introduce you, give them the following information: