Asking for Introductions: Start Simple with the Ask
A lot of our teams needed to get in front of domain experts, customers, and mentors. Most of them asked me to put them in touch, but I went back most of the time to ask them to write a short, concise email to help me make the connection.
Write in 3 sentences
One of our founders, Arthur, was very used to writing long emails that opened with “thank you’s” and compliments. This was polite, but I found that most of the people just wanted to know what you needed.
I suggested to Arthur and Veronica (another founder) to reverse the entire content of the email. Instead of [opening thank you’s] to [what we do] to [what we need from you], I asked them to flip it around.
This way the recipient could decide whether he or she could help before reading more about you and the thank-you’s. And if you couldn’t summarize what you needed or what you were working on, it would be too burdensome to ask the reader to figure it out for you.
Call to Action
Sometimes founders wanted to keep the ask open-ended. Unless the recipient was really interested to help you out, he or she wasn’t going to go out of the way to provide time or offer introductions. If the goal was to get a short coffee or phone meeting, you needed to suggest two options for the date with a clear agenda instead of “this week at your convenience.”
Ask for advice on something specific and executable. If you couldn’t figure out what the ask was, maybe you shouldn’t be meeting the person. Remi, another founder, just told me that this suggestion made her experience so much better with the mentors instead of asking for general feedback.
This was one of the most important steps in connecting with people. There were so many times I missed an email because I read it too quickly and didn’t respond right away and it disappeared into the ether. I missed an important recommendation email for Ariff and I really wished he had just reminded me.
A quick line that said, “hey, I wanted to check in on the message, hope to connect when you have a moment” was sufficient.
People loved to help, but you needed to know how to ask for help and what to ask for. Asking for introductions wasn’t always the most natural thing, but you could start simple.