Want an Introduction to one of our Portfolio Companies? Here is what NOT to Do

I’m asked all the time to play matchmaker between folks and companies that we’ve invested in.  Sometimes it’s someone looking for a job, sometimes it’s one company looking to partner with one of our investments and other times it’s something completely different.  I’m always happy to do so long as I think it could be a mutually beneficial relationship.

Lately, however, I’ve seen an increase in behaviors that do nothing but turn me off.   I feel almost silly writing this post.  These should be obvious.  Perhaps this will help someone?  Or at least, I’d love to hear some other stories which will make me laugh.

Poor behavior #1:  Expect me to do all the work.  This is the person who wants an intro to a company, but it is like pulling teeth trying to get them to write something that I can send along to the company.  First, the askee should have a better idea than I do why there is a good reason to connect.  Second, if I’m going to take time to make an intro, then why would you want to wait for me to get around to writing an email?  I could end up getting so busy that I never get around to it.  And it’s just nice etiquette, too, I think. 

Poor behavior #2:  Be overly aggressive to get directly connected to the company.  This is the person who wants me to introduce them to an executive at a company, before I check in the with the company to see if they are interested.  Our companies are really busy building businesses and if they don’t have an interest, I’m not going to force them (or guilt them, as an investor) to meet with someone.  When I say that I’ll make the intro if the company is interested and the askee becomes aggressive wanting a direct intro, it really turns me off.  Remember, it takes me more time to check in with the company and then get back to the person than an instant intro, so it isn’t like I’m not trying.  I’m just attempting to be respectful of our portfolio companies’ executives time. 

Poor behavior #3:  Insult my company in an attempt to show your worth.  This is my favorite.  This is the person who tells me that the reason our portfolio company needs to meet with them is because our company sucks in some capacity.  Insults will get you nowhere.  This isn’t the case where a person says “Hey, I can help your company do X better.”  This is the person who says “I can fix your company’s debacle” or “Your company has no idea how to monetize.  They suck at revenue.”  (I am very lightly changing actual quotes sent to me).  Every startup company has issues.  Actually, every company has issues and can be better at some things, but acting as a know-it-all and being arrogant and thinking that an outsider is smarter than anyone inside one of our companies is probably a bad strategy.

Okay, rant over.  Am I missing any good ones?