When I first started angel investing, John Ives from Tahoma Ventures took the time to meet me for coffee to welcome me into the angel community. He spent over an hour with me to kindly answer my newbie angel questions and to make sure I was someone he would feel comfortable sharing investment opportunities and introductions with. At the end of our meeting he said, “I know a few people you might enjoy meeting, but I need to reach out to them to ask them if they are open to an introduction. Also, as just an FYI, it’s really good practice to ask before you make an introduction to other angel investors.”
That was perhaps the most important piece of advice John could have given me. From that point forward, I made it a practice to ask before making an introduction and it has served me extremely well. Almost every time I do this, I get a nice note back from the investor thanking me for asking. While I think this is a good practice for introductions to any type of person, I think it is especially important for angel investors because:
- Most angel investors do not angel invest full-time and they often have limited time to meet with people.
- Many angel investors are uncomfortable with others outside their close investor circle knowing they are an angel investor.
- It can be emotionally exhausting to say “no” on a frequent basis and since many angel investors invest in only 1% of the deals they see, putting them in another position to say “no” can be counterproductive.
- Angel investors sometimes see deals without having direct interaction with an entrepreneur, i.e.: through a friend or at an event. They often decide that the investment opportunity is not a fit for them without having contact with the entrepreneur. This frequently happens to me. I see a pitch, decide it’s not a fit and start to move on until someone makes a direct introduction to that entrepreneur. I then have to go through the time-consuming exercise of explaining why the company is not a fit and addressing their counter arguments.
- Many angel investors are very choosy about the people they co-invest with. Asking before making an introduction is a sign of respect for people’s privacy and time, and from my experience it has, in some instances, been the sole reason in which an investor has asked me to co-invest with them. Food for thought.
So…if you’ve been making direct introductions without asking, should you lose sleep over it? Absolutely not. It happens all the time and it’s not a huge deal. However, if you change this practice for the future, I guarantee you’ll like the results.