More on Biz Dev Intros…

We frequently get asked for email introductions to business development partners. Inspired by Roy Bahat, I wrote a tweetstorm on some best practices. See below.

In general, you should assume that the business development partner has (1) very busy people and (2) most likely, little incentive to meet you (unless you are the Startup Du Jour that everyone wants to meet). If they have any decision-making authority or key influence, these people have their OKRs and are motivated to execute on those. Your idea may in fact be incredibly lucrative or “strategic” to that partner – but if that idea doesn’t resonate with that executive’s 3 top goals, you may not get much mindshare. (The previous two sentences apply mostly to big companies). That said, there are ways to capture their attention and maximize chances of meeting. Here’s the tweetstorm with some additional color:

  • Try to get an email intro from someone who has a relationship and is not just merely a connection. Ask your investors and friends.
  • If this is a big company, you want to limit the number of introductions and meetings to that company. It’s better to wait and come with a meaningful “ask/proposal” then a vague “exploratory” meeting. You can burn yourself out at a big co – they will get sick of you. So avoid that first meeting where there’s really nothing to talk about except a dream deal for you and basically a handout from them.
  • Nobody likes to read long emails.
  • I’ve seen email templates that are a page long with a lot of good material. Doesn’t matter.
  • If you’re a founder, you need to do this anyway. You should be able to crisply communicate your company/vision in a short sentence – this helps persuades prospective partners, investors, employees, customers, etc.
  • Your target may be in technology but they may not be inside baseball. Highlighting something impressive like customer traction (“customers like [name customers]”) or investor backing (“backed by [Impressive VC]”) or founder background (“CS graduates from MIT”) or something that would make an ordinary person think it’s impressive.
  • MBA folks call this a “value proposition.”
  • There should be a specific proposal that demonstrates you understand their business and how working together will create value for them. For ex: “We’d like to explore the possibility of syndicating our search technology across your properties. We believe that we have advanced technology that can improve your monetization across your properties.”
  • The person doing the introducing is spending some social capital when making the introduction. So you don’t want to embarass them.
  • I learned in law school that the best way to write concise sentences without being blunt is by reading Ernest Hemingway. I didn’t do that.