Today we’re going to talk about networking but, I promise you, this discussion is going to look different than most of the networking discussions you’ve had before and it will be especially helpful for those of you out there who DESPISE networking…especially you introverts. Continue Reading
If you’ve done any research about raising funding for your startup or small business – or, really, if you know anything about human behavior – you’ll recognize that you have a much better chance at getting an angel investor or venture capitalist to write a check to fund your business if you’re able to get a warm introduction to that investor. Assuming you don’t spend all of your free time rubbing elbows with multimillionaires, however, you may have to put in a little work to get that introduction and I’m going to give you some tips for accomplishing just that.
First up, make sure you’re prepared for a meeting before you head to start trying to get meetings. You really never know when you might procure that warm intro you’re looking for and when the investor will want to meet. I’m not saying you need to jump through ridiculous hoops and be available at an investor’s every beck and call, but if you get the opportunity to have a meeting, you don’t want to ask for a couple of weeks to prepare. Additionally, you have to remember that these investors have lives too and care about many things much more than listening to your pitch. If someone says they’d love to hear your pitch but are heading off on a month-long vacation next week and need to see you the day after tomorrow, you should be ready to pitch them the day after tomorrow.
Secondly, be sure you know what type of investor you’re looking for. Most investors, whether angels or VCs, have a sweet spot within which they like to make their investments. That means that they’ll typically back companies in a particular industry, at a particular stage of development, in a particular geographic region, and that need a particular amount of money. Before you go out there networking, make sure you know where you fall in that mix so that you can be clear about who would be good fit for you as an investment partner and who wouldn’t be.
Thirdly, get out there and become a part of the community. If you’re watching this video wondering how to get a warm introduction to an investor, it’s likely that you haven’t really become a part of the entrepreneurship or startup community in your area. These circles tend to be pretty small and it’s pretty easy to get to know someone who could make a connection for you, or to meet the investors themselves at one of the events in your area. That’s not going to happen if you’re never present in the community, however. Whether or not you’re actively seeking investment, you should be out there getting to know the other entrepreneurs in your area, participating in events, sharing your idea, learning from others, and just really committing to being a part of what’s happening on the entrepreneurship scene. This is how you learn, network, and find out about new opportunities for your business.
Fourthly, make use of the technology we have available to us and utilize the networking platforms out there to see who you know that could connect you to someone who might invest. Jump on LinkedIn to look up some of the investors you’d love to work with and you’ll immediately be able to see if someone can make an introduction for you. We have so much more visibility and transparency now than in the past when it comes to others’ networks and you should absolutely make use of that. If you don’t have someone who can make an introduction for you yet, move to Facebook or Twitter and try to find out where the investors you want to meet will be and then plan to attend those events as well. If you continue to participate in the same community in which the investor participates, you’ll eventually meet him or her or at least meet someone who knows him or her.
Finally, be persistent. It may take you a little time to get a warm introduction to the investor of your dreams, but it will be well worth it once you do. Remember as you go through the networking process that there is much more value to building long-term relationships with the people you meet than getting a one-time intro to an investor. The best thing you can do is bring value to the community – share your idea, show off your intelligence and dedication, and most of all, help the other members of the community. An introduction is only effective when it’s backed by praise and you need to have a good reputation in the community in order to get that.
That’s it for this week on New Venture Mentor. Thanks for watching and I hope you found this video helpful. If you did, please let me know by giving me a thumbs up on YouTube and maybe even making a small fan funding donation so that I can keep this channel up and running. If you can’t or don’t want to give, no worries. You should still subscribe to the channel and to my email newsletter over at CateCosta.com to make sure you’re always in the loop on the latest information, tools, and tips to help you plan, launch, and grow your new business.
This weeks episode is going to be a quick one because it’s a bit fluffy and I’m not the biggest fan of fluffy motivational “advice” that doesn’t actually add value. However, as we head into the holiday season we’ll all be reminded even more than usual that most of our family and friends just don’t get us entrepreneurs. They simply can’t quite understand our “jobs” or our lifestyles and that can make it difficult to relate and connect at times.
Since you often can’t turn to your normal support system when it comes to issues that arise in your work or personal life related to the fact that you’ve chosen to be a business owner, one of the toughest parts of becoming an entrepreneur is trying to find a support system that “gets it.” As much as your friends and family love you, many of them will continuously and unknowingly make frustrating remarks about how you’re on vacation, you’re so lucky to only have to work when you want, or question when you’ll get a “real job.” On the flip side, others will complain about how you’re constantly working, you never stop worrying, and they don’t get as much quality time with you as they used to. Even those who attempt to be supportive and recognize the seriousness of your pursuits will often simply not understand the mentality of entrepreneur nor the issues and headaches that you face.
That’s why it’s incredibly important that new entrepreneurs form a support system that will help get them through the tough times that inevitably come with starting and running your own business. I recommend surrounding yourself with a network of other entrepreneurs just to sanity check yourself from time to time.
Try joining a master mind or meetup group focused on entrepreneurship in your area. If you work from home, consider joining a co-working space – many allow you to rent a “floating desk” for just a few hours per week so that you can pop in just to get some human to human interaction with other entrepreneurs without paying rent somewhere. Find a mentor who’s been where you are and can help advise you on how to deal with not only the business bumps but also the personal bumps that come with entrepreneurship.
Having a network of people that get what you’re going through will help you to be able to quickly vent, feel understood, and then get right back to work when things just aren’t going right with something related to your business.