The Only Way to Ask for Investor Intros

Aaron Dinin, PhD
3 min readJan 21, 2020

A general rule of thumb in fundraising is that warm intros to potential investors are always better than cold reach outs. For investors, entrepreneurs who are “vouched for” by someone in their network they already know and trust is a helpful filtering mechanism to sort through their over-crowded inboxes of eager founders trying to pitch their startups. As a result, getting intros to investors is critical for fundraising success. Do you know how to get the kind of intros that lead to meetings with venture capitalists?

When asking people to introduce you, you’re asking them to risk their reputations with the people to whom they’re connected. They know that a valuable intro will increase the clout of future intros (and other requests they might make), and, conversely, a poor intro will dilute the value of their intros. Because of this, the likelihood of someone deciding to make an intro depends largely on how well they think you’ll represent them.

For me, if the person asking for an intro is someone I know well and trust, I’ll usually do my best to make the intro. Even if I don’t have a strong relationship with the investor to whom I’m making the intro, there’s a surprising amount of value in sending an email that says: “I know we haven’t spoken in years and you probably don’t remember me, but the person who asked me for this intro is so amazing, I was willing to randomly email you to make this connection.”

On the opposite end of the spectrum, I’ll sometimes get random emails from people I don’t know who went to the same college as me asking for an intro to someone they saw I was connected with on LinkedIn. Seriously? How does the fact that we graduated from the same college qualify me as someone to recommend you? Luckily, those requests are easy to turn down.

The most difficult intro requests to deal with are from entrepreneurs I know a little about, but not a ton. I want to be helpful, but, at the same time, I can’t fully articulate what they do, which limits my ability to provide value to the person with whom they’re asking to be connected. As a result, creating the intro email is going to take lots of time, and, as I’ve written before, the more work a request creates — particularly an email — the less likely you are to get what you want.

Aaron Dinin, PhD

I teach entrepreneurship at Duke. Software Engineer. PhD in English. I write about the mistakes entrepreneurs make since I’ve made plenty. More @