I wanted to share my thoughts on sending emails to potential investors, or more broadly, to anyone you deem â€˜important.’
It’s my belief that email is poor medium to â€˜launch’ a relationship. What I mean by this is not that you shouldn’t cold call or meet people via email â€“ in fact, email is probably the standard and preferred method for being contacted (especially for a first correspondence). However my experience has been that nothing substitutes for meeting someone face-to-face; the tipping point for most relationships. Keeping this in mind, what’s the easiest way to get an in-person meeting with someone you’re dying to meet? The answer is using social leverage. Get intro’d through a friend. Knowing someone in common makes a HUGE difference with dates, investors, landlords, potential employers, etc. If you are truly unable to find a mutual connection, first realize you need to network more and second send only a short and concise email void of excessive flattery. The email should contain a) clear reason for the meeting (hopefully mutually beneficial to both parties) and b) a logical next course of action.
When someone makes an introduction on your behalf that person is validating you. The assumption is that the mutual connection making the introduction has enough social credibility with this important person that the important person will take the hint and follow up. Note: if you are the one making an introduction, make sure to suggest a next-stepâ€¦â€�Tim: I wanted you to meet Joeâ€� is overly ambiguous and will produce a weak response versus â€œTim, I have worked with Joe in the past and think it would be mutually beneficial for you guys to grab coffee sometime soon.â€�
When emails go bad.
I have seen introductions take a bad turn when I introduce someone to an investor-friend and the eager entrepreneur then follows-up with a lengthy email about mutual people the *might* each know, uses overly aggressive or desperate language, makes it clear they’ve been Wikipedia stalking, or simply is trying way too hard. Not only do such responses make me look like I have bad judgment in character but they are simply unnecessary: if I make an intro I am expecting that person will meet with you. All you that’s needed is a timely follow-upÂ by email with the essential details necessary to get that person on the phone or at a convenient cafÃ© (see below). Also, remember that important people are busy and not surprisingly they get lots of email. Therefore it’s okay to send 1 or 2 follow up emails at appropriately spaced time intervals if you have not heard back.
Amazingly I’ve also seen people suggest locations that are inconvenient for the busy person they’ve requested to meet with; unappealing locations even: who wants leave work to meet someone at a Starbucks in Union Square at noon? It’s a circus: super loud and you’ll never get a seat. You’ll wait in line for 15 minutes to get a coffee. Don’t put yourself at a disadvantage by being inconsiderate, or just plain stupid.
Lastly, we do live in a world where anyone can figure out how to get in contact with anyone else. This does not mean you should do so. Remember, if you can figure out someone’s email address so can 10,000 other people. This makes social leverage all the more potent and introductions through mutual acquaintances all the more powerful as a primary filter.
Update: I also should point out that many important people cancel meetings regularly. Therefore I have always found that it pays to confirm 24 hours before, to provide them your mobile number and never to make a major expenditure of cash on the hope you’ll meet
You may also want to read my previous post on how to make great email introductions