Connection is vital in the start-up community. As a founder, getting intros is a basic thing, and not to say that maybe it’s a daily activity. More startup teams apply to programs to gain specific contacts and open up discussions with mentors, partners, or clients. 

Through the Startup Basics, we aim to share what founders learn while going through the StepFWD pre-accelerator. We teach StepFWD teams about the 2 most useful emails in the arsenal of every founder: the forwardable email and the follow-up email. 

The FWD email

What it is and what’s useful follow

As the name suggests, you write an email that it’s easy to forward. 

Let’s imagine that a mentor offers to connect you with one of their collaborators. She/he needs to write an email with all the information about your business, explain why this point of contact makes sense, add some bits of information about the founders. This takes time and friction because she/he doesn’t know your business as well as you do. Not to mention that in this case, the mentor can misinterpret some important information about your business. 

A forwardable email from the founder can reduce the work for the mentor, clarify the reason why you need to make the connection and it gives you the space to explain the business exactly as you want. 

The mentor will only have to hit the Forward button, say a few words about how they met you, some information about their experience with your startup, and ask for the connection. It’s that easy! 

Structure

Why are we talking about structure? Because if it’s not done right, you pass some responsibility to your connector, and you don’t want to create unnecessary work. More work for your connector might cause a delay in getting that connection. 

The email you write must be addressed to the final recipient. The point of this fwd email is to reduce the friction between the founder – mentor and the final recipient. That includes also copy / paste and trying to fix the initial email. 

From:

To: 

Subject:

Intro to Jens Lapinski

Body:

Marko, thanks for facilitating the introduction to Jens.

Hello Jens,

StepFWD is a pre-accelerator for tech startups with diverse teams which will take place between October – December.

Last week I’ve been shadowing Techstars to learn how to create a better program for our startups and I was blown away both by the Sales masterclass that you held for the cohort and the discussion you had with Cristina, the founder of Cledara (was helping her with note-taking).

We would love to have you as a mentor in our pre-accelerator and to connect you for an online discussion with 1-2 startups that need help on B2B sales and are prepared for early-stage investment.

Thank you,

Liviu

For the connector it’s easy now to click Forward, and add a few lines.

Pros & cons of (not) using the fwd email

For the final recipient, it’s very clear that the email it’s an introduction email. She/he can spot the name of the business in the subject making it easy to find it later in the inbox. I can add here also that it’s straightforward: that’s the note of the connector. 

You can present your company as you want and ask the new connection your specific questions. 

An fwd email is no guarantee that the final recipient will accept the introduction. She/he can accept or decline and the connector can manage the situation more clearly. If she/he accepts, the connector adds you to the conversation. If not, the connector can reply to you at the original email with the rejection. 

Once you get the connection, don’t forget to move the connector to BCC. Spare their inbox and their time!

Why use this fwd email?

  • Easy flow for your connector
  • Reduce friction between you and your connector 
  • The clarity for the final recipient 

The Follow-up email

What it is and what’s useful follow

You obtained the desired meeting or you had a planned session: mentoring session, office hours or you just met a person at a networking event. In any of these situations, you have to write the person a follow-up email. 

Why? It helps you build a connection with that person. Simply writing a Follow-up with a thank you note makes it much easier if you want to reconnect with them after a while. And you never know when you might need their help.

Did she/he mention some resources or offered to introduce you to some acquaintance of them? Ask for these intros, if they were offered. Just write them an introduction fwd email [link pentru mai sus], reply quickly and move the connector in BCC once the conversation starts.

Structure

What should you have in mind when you start writing a follow-up? 

Start with the mention of when / where have you met and then move to what it is about: a thank you note, getting some extra information, setting up a demo, asking for intros, etc. 

Let’s see one example:

Hello.

Thank you for your precious time today – I really enjoyed our conversation. We got some really good points out of our session – I hope you can help with some feedback as we proceed with our next steps.

You mentioned you’d like to see a demo and it would be our pleasure to facilitate that for you. Any chance you have some time for that next week? Or, if by any chance you’re attending [next-event] on Tue night (6 PM) we can prepare something for you then.

Let me know what you prefer.

Best regards,

Ciprian

Good practices for these kinds of emails

  • Short email. You don’t know how busy the other person is, so get to the point.
  • Always respond quickly & follow up. Remember that it’s in your best interest.
  • Get “Reply all” right. More people in the conversation? Take care of who needs that kind of information.
  • Ask specific questions. Get to the point, once you have clear and specific questions, the interpretation or misunderstandings will be eliminated.
  • Make it easy for the other person. You’ll have more chances to succeed if you keep this in mind.
  • Have the “ask” at the end. Write what you want to obtain. Once this is clear, the conversation will keep going.

Pros and cons  of (not) using them

The follow-up email is the secret (not so secret) weapon for networking. It gives you the power of connection and it makes it easy to reopen closed conversations when you have some specific asks. 

Yes, it takes time to write to all people just to thank them for 10 – 20 minutes of their lives, but this is the first step to cultivating these relationships to the next level. You don’t know how these connections will thrive in time. 

Resources: