Entrepreneur referrals

I respond differently to entrepreneur referrals depending on who they’re coming from.

For example, two days ago I received a referral who I accepted to meet immediately. The reason was because the referral came from a very strong entrepreneur who has introduced me to other strong entrepreneurs in the past. I touched on how important it is for VC’s to build a reputation for making valuable referrals in an earlier post.

I also regularly receive referrals where I read about the entrepreneur and what they’re doing in the email introduction, but don’t meet in person. The reason for this is that the source of the referral is either someone I don’t know well or someone I do who hasn’t been a source of great referrals in the past.

What this means is that, in exchange for the benefit of being able to prioritize who to meet based on the signaling effect of the person making the referral, I may miss some diamonds in the rough. For example, a strong entrepreneur may have simply chosen to reach out through the wrong LinkedIn connection.

What this means for entrepreneurs is that you should reach out to investors through connections that you know they trust. For example, you may want to complement a LinkedIn search of your mutual connections by browsing the investor’s Twitter profile. I’m using Twitter as an example here but similar social signals are available on other web and specifically social media platforms.

If the investor has engaged (retweeted, favorited, messaged, or replied) with one of your mutual LinkedIn connections on Twitter, they’re likely to have a much stronger relationship with that person than someone who they look connected to on LinkedIn but haven’t interacted with on Twitter. Your chances of being perceived positively are therefore much higher if you reach out through the former connection.


Also published on Medium.