On unearned loyalty

Many companies that I work with get nice warm introductions to potential investors, partners, or customers. Sometimes these come from someone who is highly respected by the target of the introduction. Often, this grants immediate and (as of yet) unearned loyalty to the company. And it makes the meeting happen.

From the entrepreneurs perspective, this can be very nerve wracking. They will of course feel an obligation (and rightly so) to be “awesome”, so they don’t let down the person who “stuck their neck out” to make the introduction.

Interestingly, it’s often the case that the referrer has virtually unlimited karma points, so even if the company totally messes up, they won’t really lose any credibility. From their perspective, it’s “worth a try.”

What I’ve learned over the last year is that unearned loyalty can and does create a weird dynamic. It’s important to quickly develop your own loyalty towards the people you meet based upon direct experience instead of continuing to interact with them based on this unearned loyalty.

This is true when it’s an investor/entrepreneur, entrepreneur/entrepreneur, or even investor/investor relationship.

If you’re going to do something, do it for yourself because it’s right and helpful and not because you were “set up” by someone you think highly of.

file under: Blog, Startups