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Networking in Silicon Valley should be the easiest thing in the world. The Valley thrives on a free exchange of new ideas, so people always want to meet other people who might have interesting ideas or connections. As a result, people I hardly know introduce me to people they hardly know. Sometimes I get cold-emailed.
On general principle, and since the numbers aren’t currently overwhelming, I’ll take any introduction that comes my way. Most of the time, I’ll go out of my way to help those people out. Most founders, YCombinator or not, would do the same.
However, about half of people I’m introduced to do something that makes me not want to help them out. I’ve been through enough of these intro cycles now that I’ve started to discern four distinct patterns. Here’s what they are, and how to avoid them:
1. Flaking on meetings
Last week, a kind-of acquaintance asked me for some advice on his fledgling startup, and wanted to see if I’d meet with him to discuss. I offered to have lunch with him the following week. That was the last I heard from him.
Radio-silence isn’t the worst thing in the world. I’ll still take the meeting in a couple weeks if the founder does end up getting back in touch. But I’ll be far less likely to help that person, since he’s going to have to really impress me to make up for my current impression that he’s a flake.
2. Forgetting to do follow-ups
One of my VC friends introduced me to a startup that he believed had a lot of potential. I took a 45 minute call with their main guy, who seemed full of energy and excited to get things done. I told him that they should apply to YCombinator, and offered to mention their application specifically to a...