How to not suck at intros
By www.foundercentric.com. We help founders.
Ask for time before you tell
people what’s going on.
Hey, we’re a new company Hi, I’d really value your
researching HR stafﬁng advice about how designers
issues for our upcoming manage clients for a portfolio
product -- who is the right product I’m working on.
person in your organisation Could I buy you a coffee in
for us to be talking to? the next few weeks?
Don’t write too much.
Keep it to 5 sentences. Make in easy to read & answer in 2 minutes or less.
Ask for something speciﬁc.
An email needs a clear ask or it’s getting put in the “I’ll think about that
later” pile. Busy people never look at that pile.
Only ask for
If you have multiple points or calls
to action, you’ll get the easiest one
answered and the rest ignored.
Nobody owes you.
Don’t make a big ask in your ﬁrst email contact.
Don’t give people work to do, or stuff to read.
First contacts don’t need ﬁnancial projections and a board deck.
Adding a little bit of extra info to an intro can be handy, but keep it to the
more “casual” stuff (e.g. a short intro deck.)
Don’t expect anyone to open your attachments -- just throw them in there
to save the curious a request.
Use the subject line to help them
quickly understand what you want.
Intro: Harry meet Sally
Ask: Intro meeting to learn about
your video content.
Update: Progress this month on
Reminder: Please send me the draft
spec you mentioned.
If someone introduces you to a potential
lead, jump on it immediately with a quick
“Hey, great to meet you, we do X and
How to make
Hey James, meet Lydia -- she does cool
and relevant thing XYZ.
Hey Lydia, James runs JQR and is
I wanted to put you two in touch because
All the best,
It’s okay to nudge.
Nudge people every 2-6 weeks. We all lose email. It’s ﬁne.
Make an email icebox.
When folks politely reject you (e.g. “Keep me in the
loop!”), add them to your icebox list,
Send the icebox a brief email update about once a
month with the main progress that they would care
about (e.g. new products for clients, traction
progress for investors.)
Sorry, nobody wants to just “have a call” with
you. Tell them what you want to talk about.
Sometimes a call is the best tool, but if you
make someone have a call on something you
could have dealt with over email, you’ll be
considered a time-waster.
Frame the ask around the customers context.
Hi Mr Chen,
I’m developing a product that helps
recruiters manage their email. We’re in early
stages, and would really appreciate 30
minutes to help understand your workﬂow
and needs. Is there a good time to speak in
the next few weeks?
Get permission when
If you’re calling, IMing or Skyping in
unscheduled, say what you need in a
sentence, and ask for permission to continue.
“Hi, I was hoping to grab you for 5-10 minutes
to ask a few questions about the project plan
you shared with me. Is now good?”
If it’s a bad time, ask when’s a good time.
Propose a couple time ranges in the short-term, plus an empty
day/week further in the future.
Propose to go to their ofﬁce, or to meet them at a convenient
coffee shop -- if you’re asking for the meeting, you’re travelling.
Tell them how long it’s going to be, and one or two agenda
points if they exist.
Everyone hates to “catch-up” with complete strangers.
If you’re going to be late, let them
know immediately, and give them
your updated ETA.
As soon as you think the meeting might run over
the allotted time, ask for permission or options.
“We’re not going to get
through topics X, Y & Z
in the next 20 minutes.
Can we run 15 minutes
longer, or is there
another time we could
talk about Z?
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