For Serious Candidates Only
Once priming and preparations have been made, action steps are next. Here is a list of tasks to cover to make sure you are seen as a serious candidate:
1. Create a 15 second and 30 second elevator pitch
While learning and speaking with venture capitalists at various conferences, this was made clear to me: if you cannot explain what you do in 3 sentences or less, you don’t know what you’re doing; hence, you won’t get the proper attention.
Do not disregard this part. Spend days or even weeks on creating good and concise elevator pitches. Run them by friends and family for feedback, and adjust it accordingly. It’s not finished until you can utter it out in your sleep with complete clarity and confidence.
2. Start attending conferences
Every industry has conferences, attend those conferences with your business cards and elevator pitch handy. Make sure you go there to learn and meet people NOT to ask for money. At this stage you are just building your reputation. Give and get business cards. If you don’t have money, go to the free or inexpensive conferences. If you are not known for your skills or expertise, there will be little chance for your idea to get funding without forking out some heavy time and cash out of your life. This is just like campaigning in politics, you are campaigning for funding.
3. Establish yourself as an expert
When attending conferences, learn everything there is to know about your industry. Then start contributing at forums, write a few articles, and share tips and ideas with people you know. This will go a long way to validate you as the perfect candidate for an investment. Remember, this is the Olympics you are trying to make, not a free for all event, so take this seriously. Utilize social media sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook to increase your sphere of influence and network.
4. Attend investor/entrepreneur conferences
Here is your chance to use your pitch and find someone that might be a potential investor. By now you should have a clear idea of who you are and what your business is all about. Don’t be shy. Go ask investors questions, such as “What industry do you find the most appealing for your firm?" Don’t start talking about what you do until they ask! This is important as they are bombarded by pitches all day long. Learn to start conversations and ask about them, and what interests them. Give and get business cards.
5. Create letters of approach
These are letters, thank you cards, and emails that you will use to communicate with people you plan on approaching for an investment. Get a book on how to write business letters to make sure you write professionally.
6. Follow-up, Follow-up, Follow-up
The minute you meet a person, you might have their attention, but as soon as you walk out of their site, they will probably forget about you completely. This is nothing personal; you probably do the same thing with people. And this is just because most of us are consumed with thoughts about ourselves and how others perceive us.
Use all those business cards and follow-up with an email, thank you card, or letter, as soon as the first day after the conference is over, or after you have met the person and exchanged information. You do this to reinforce the meeting in their minds as soon as possible.
This will allow you room to follow up in the future and not just have your email deleted right away because they don’t remember you.
If this all sounds like a lot of work, it is. Don’t fall for people or scams that tell you to sign up for the monthly subscription that will put you in front of investors. Use that money and physically go to legitimate industry conferences and do the leg work to get your own leads. Investors would prefer to pick someone that shows they are more resourceful than paying someone to do the real work for them.