How I Do Referrals

Since I’m a connector, I often make referrals.  However my referrals are different, since I am able to make connections across unusual markets or very far away internationally, both cases where there is much less trust.

Fred Wilson and other well known venture capitalists now ask for double opt in introductions.  Fred writes:

When introducing two people who don’t know each other, ask each of them to opt-in to the introduction before making it.

I don’t do this, because its I think we can do better.  I’m glad to make unannounced introductions.  However we need to do the introduction REALLY WELL.

Here’s what I look for:

  • If I’m forwarding along an email from you, is your explanation of what you’re looking for clear, well written and something the other person will immediately want to jump on?
  • Are you willing to do something of real value for the person?  If you’re well known that may be enough – or it may not be.  Maybe you will need to be willing to jump on the phone to give some free consulting.. Or take them out for a nice dinner.. Or gain special access at an event..
  • Are you willing to jump through hoops and be super responsive to the other person, even though this is something someone of your status in your market would normally never have to do?

This can be hard to take for people who are used to being top dog in their market and used to special privileges.  But the way different markets interact can be complex – what you have achieved in one arena may not translate to another.  And I’m not a world famous guy like Bill Gates.  I’m not listing these things  for fun, I’m bring these points up so the introductions will WORK.   And I’ll work with you in whatever it takes so we get it right.

I’m glad to do referrals and like to help my friends out.  I want my referrals to be powerful and useful so the person receiving them instantly says “yes, that is definitely something I want” instead of viewing it as an imposition.

And for those receiving my referrals, if I got it wrong and the referral isn’t useful feel free to just ignore it.  I’m very clear that I have to bring value.