Everybody says it. “Get a personal introduction and you’ll fare much better.”
So, what? I walk up to this guy when he’s at lunch and introduce myself, noting that I’d like $850,000 for my new business?” No, I don’t think so.
There are, actually, much better ways of getting that personal introduction, such as:
Yes, rejections do have a rosy side. Every time a lender or investor rejects your business plan, call and ask who they recommend as a good prospect.
Then, contact the person/company that is recommended, noting, “Jan Snicker at Big Oldie Bank suggested I contact you.”
Voila! There’s your personal introduction.
Use your research to identify something common between you and the lender/investor. Perhaps your neighbor went to the same college he did. Perhaps your kids are both into ice hockey.
Use that commonality to get your personal approach.
For example, you discover that he is a Scout leader, just as you were. So start out, “Being a Scout leader taught me the importance of teaching leadership skills to my team.”
Before you know it, you and he are good buddies.
3.Via a Common Contact
Somewhere within seven degrees of separation there are people common to both of you, either in your professional lives, or your personal circles.
This may take some legwork. You need to hook up with the person who knows the person who knows him. But it’s well worth it. The gold mine of information you discover along the way, as well as that ever valuable personal introduction, make every moment worth while.
Is this imposing on people? Not at all. People like to be asked. They like feeling important. So give them both.
Don’t be surprised if a journey like this turns up other investors/lenders that you hadn’t even thought of.
4.Via a Chance Encounter
You suspect that Mr. Gingle will be at the investor forum next week? Well, what the dickens is stopping you? Line up that intro now.
If you can manage to be at his table at lunch, you’ve hit a home run. But any “chance” encounter will do just fine. All you need is a few minutes to give your investor introduction pitch.
Your goal is to have him say that it’s OK for you to send a business plan to his attention. That, realistically, is all the time he will have at a brief encounter like this.
5.Via the Back Door
Your lender/investor has clients. Some have been very successful and earned him a lot of money.
If you cannot get to your person, try getting to that particular client. Industry conferences are always a good bet. Local business conferences often work well too.
I know one industrious entrepreneur who moved to Menlo Park, California, and hung out in the local pubs known to be frequented by venture capitalists. While that was a bit radical, the approach is right on target.
I cannot over-emphasize the importance of conducting research on your potential investment partner. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the bank around the corner or the venture capital firm on the other side of the country. Find out everything you can – names, biographies, hobbies, speeches, education, career path.
Then, when you do get that personal introduction (and it’s invariably at a time when you least expect it!), you will have the “info glue” to make the introduction stick.
Good luck on your adventure!
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