This common mistake will crush your chance of getting an intro

Jason Yeh
April 4, 2023
#
Fundraising

If you work in any relationship-driven business function, you’ll be exposed to the idea of the “forwardable email.” Sales, BD, and fundraising all rely on it.

But being exposed to the idea, does not mean deeply understanding it. In fact, messing up the forwardable email is one of the most common mistakes I see founders make in fundraising and something that will crush your chances of getting that high-impact introduction

But first, some background on intros… 

Intros: the Lifeblood of Fundraising

Introductions are a crucial part of fundraising. They are the lifeblood that keeps quality deal flow pumping for investors. 

The operative term here is “quality” because there are far more efficient ways to get general deal flow. Post on Twitter that you invest and take cold outreach via an online form, and you’ll start reaping the benefits of easy-to-access, GENERAL deal flow.

This is where the bottleneck of investing comes in. How does an investor process deal flow efficiently enough to have the patience to wait for outlier opportunities? The answer is trusting the credibility of their network to provide a quality filter and shorten their time to evaluate deals.

As a founder, you may be frustrated by the need to jump through hoops to meet with investors. You might wonder if you should just ditch the 3-5 emails you’ll need to send to get an intro in favor of the 1 cold email that will take no time to send. If you’re actually wondering, the answer is ‘no.’ Go get that warm intro. It might take 10x as long to do but it’ll be 100x more effective than your cold email.

Remember that intros are the lifeblood of successful fundraises… 

Misconceptions about Introductions

Now that you’re squarely on Team Intros, let’s break through the misconceptions surrounding them. Many people assume that asking for an intro is just a matter of sending a quick email. Doesn’t that only take a few minutes to write? And because it is so easy, there shouldn't be anything holding the person back from making an amazing introduction for you… immediately. 

I so wish these fantasies were reality. Unfortunately, these assumptions are off. So far off.

Here’s the reality.

A quality introduction comes from a quality relationship. The person who developed that quality relationship didn’t get there by treating the relationship recklessly. Whether it was from a personal or professional starting point, they got there by providing value and respecting time. 

SO, when asking someone to make a quality introduction, you have to make sure they can easily communicate the value of the intro and not waste anyone’s time. This requires care and thoughtfulness…and takes time. 

BTW - a great intro request is not just 1-2 emails. It’s at least 5…

With this background, you’ll be better

Once founders hear these details about intros, they get better at making introductions. 

A few great bits of progress I usually see:

  • Shorter writing that’s quicker to process
  • More specific asks to reduce friction / time wasted 
  • Clear value props curated for the audience
  • Taking work off of others’ plates to make introductions easier

The last point is the right idea, but sometimes the right idea executed poorly can lead to failure…

The most common mistake in introductions…

One of the most common mistakes they make is not understanding the concept of a forwardable email.

What is a Forwardable Email?

A forwardable email is an email that can be sent to a connector to make it easier to do a double opt-in check. In other words, it makes it easy to ask someone if it's okay to make an introduction. 

It's called a “forwardable email” because the email is designed to be "forwarded." However, this is where founders mess up. They hear "make it easy for the connector" and "do as much work as possible for the connector" and glaze over the actual term "forwardable." What comes out the other side is an email that is not forwardable.

Here’s an example of this mistake in the form of what one founder thought was the perfect “forwardable email”:

Subject: Tiny favor for my fundraise

I really appreciate your offer to connect me with John Doe, Julia Donald, and Jordan James.  I pulled together a brief forwardable note (with specifics for each contact) that can be used for a quick intro.  Let me know if there is other information I can send along with each contact to make the introductions smoother.

" . . . I would like to introduce Geronimo Smith.  He's a founder who recently left Google as a Software Engineer to start AmazeballsAI with his co-founder Amy Love (ex-Stripe).  His focus is on fintech and AI and I thought he would be a good fit for a conversation.  Specifically, he's interested in connecting around [investing in AmazeballAI’s seed round (John Doe) | investing in AmazeballAI’s seed round and partnering (Julia) | partnering (Jordan)]."

Best Regards,

Geronimo

That is a real life attempt at a forwardable email with details changed to protect the identity of everyone involved 🙂

You can see that the founder’s heart was in the right place. They wanted to be nice to the connector first and then provide some copy for them to make the double-opt in check easier.

The problem with this version of a forwardable email is they didn’t save the connector any time AT ALL.

Before the connector can even use parts of the pre-written copy, they must:

1. Rewrite everything in their voice

2. Choose a subject line

3. Craft opening small talk

All this extra work plummets the chances of making this introduction quickly, if at all. Even if they want to do the work, they will prioritize more important and EASIER tasks before they get to it.

Your solution: the proper format for a forwardable email

To increase your chances of a successful introduction, use a forwardable email format that requires zero effort for the connector to use for a double opt-in check. And by zero effort, I mean the connector should be able to hit FORWARD with a short message that essentially just says “see below”:

Do you see how JJ’s forwardable email allows Paige to just easily click “forward” and a short message that requires no thought to check in? If Paige wanted to, she could add tons more words of support around how awesome JJ is, but she doesn’t have to. The right forwardable email makes it easy to be quick or spend time if they want to.

DON’T SLEEP ON INTRODUCTIONS. 

It’s important to understand what they represent and how to request them in the most effective ways. Founders who get this right are more likely to be successful in fundraising. I want you to be that type of founder. 

Sweet.

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