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Introductions are better than cold emails, so let’s walk through some general best practices.

Cold Email

If you’re doing a cold email, put some context for the recipient. Sometimes, the numbers game will mean people automate part of this. If you’re doing sales, this automation is expected. Even so, putting in something to help the response rates will help your funnel. Because investors and founders are more like partnerships, I recommend against automation for a first contact. It’s an investor’s job to find great companies, so this shouldn’t be too hard because it’s a condensed form of your normal pitch: who are you, what are you building, why it’s different, how well you’re doing so far. Investors have context here too: match their thesis, compare to relevant but not competitive investments, or reference their blog. Doing the leg work pays off.

Even better is when a mutual contact can help build trust fast...

Forwardable Introductions

Go to LinkedIn to find out who we both know. What to do next?

The right answer is creating a forwardable email introduction. Let’s cover why and how.

First, make it mutual opt-in. Rarely can you presume the recipient wants the introduction without first agreeing. Opt-out puts the recipient in an awkward position of denying the meeting right away, or taking a meeting without any intention of proceeding. This might look good from a funnel perspective, but it’s a bad idea.

Second, make it easy for the referrer doing the introduction. Often you shouldn't just forward the older thread because it has a lot of extraneous or private information. Even just giving a blurb means making work for the referrer, which is a barrier to getting the introduction done. You can cut through this, make a cleaner introduction, and make it more likely to happen by composing a new email.

Here is how the mechanics work:

  1. You email the referrer, a fresh thread
  2. Referrer forwards to the target
  3. Target opts-in (or not)
  4. Referrer adds you to the thread

About the email itself:

  • The subject is about you. I like “[you] <> [target name] @ [target firm]”
  • Explain who you are and who you want to meet
  • Explain why you want it
  • Include enough context about you
  • Avoid generic templates (see the cold email bit above for context)

So to contact me, I recommend finding a mutual contact on linkedin and sending an email like this.

For more, read Fred Wilson’s post about mutual opt-ins, and also read Roy Bahat’s similar post about forwardable email.