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6 Simple Ways To Build a Relationship With a VC
I meet thousands of entrepreneurs every year. Some I stay in touch with. Some I don’t.
What’s the difference between a one-time meeting and a long term relationship?
Here are 6 straight forward ways to build authentic relationships with an investor or other strategic partner for the long term.
1. Follow up.
Going to start with the basics. Send a follow up email.
A simple “thanks for the time” means that:
we have an email thread for future correspondence
I can search my email for your name and company details
you’ve already stood out from 50% of folks
And you’ll REALLY nail it if you:
Add one line of personalization — remembering a specific fact or tip
Follow up with a link or article you mentioned
Show that you’ve followed up on a suggestion or took notes
Plant the seed for staying in touch
It was great to connect today! I’ve already checked out the article you suggested and will see you at the next event at Atlanta Tech Village. Look forward to keeping you up to date with our progress. Do you mind if I add you to future company updates? Hope you have a great trip with the family next weekend!
BOOM. 3 minute investment for a potential long term relationship.
2. Add them to a regular update email.
I love an email update from a founder.
Send it (bcc) to everyone you want to stay in touch with.
Like a newsletter only way simpler. Bullets are great. No need to mess with graphics or fancy headers.
Remember to include:
What We Do Again: one sentence blurb. Early stage companies have frequent name changes and product pivots so help an investor out!
Asks: intros, open roles, or other help you need. Great way to test potential investors or advisors to see who is actually helpful.
Thank You’s: specific shout outs. Everyone loves to be recognized, even (especially?) jaded investors 😉 Often times, it will make people work even harder for you!
Progress: Brag on yourself. Show graphs of growth. Share learnings. Don’t be modest - tell the best stuff! Quotes from customers are a great validation and storytelling strategy.
Also — don’t worry too much about a regular cadence. Send an update when you can, when you have something to share or ask for. Everyone is too busy to keep track of when you sent the last one!
There are companies that I’ve met once but I’m on their update and feel like I know them. I’ve gotten a regular email from their founder and tracked their progress over months and years.
It’s like a blog, hitting your inbox every week. 😉
3. Ask for advice.
It may sound counter-intuitive but it’s better to ask for advice than act like you know it all.
People build more rapport and trust with people they help vs. people who have helped them.
Asking for advice shows:
You want to learn and grow
You’re smart enough to ask good questions
The investor can be helpful to you (investors like to add value)
BUT — it’s important to ask for advice in the right way!
Best way to ask for advice:
Do some preliminary research.
Show that you at least know someone’s professional background or have looked up an article or two on the topic you’re asking about.
Be specific with your ask.
YES: “I’d like to pick your brain about scaling customer success.”
PLEASE NO: “I’d like to pick your brain. Can I have an hour of your time to think aloud and muddle through my questions?”
If you can share relevant info or questions ahead of time, even better!
A pretty common superpower of successful founders (in addition to testing hypotheses) is to be great at specific requests for advice or help.
Start practicing this skill now!
4. Go to events they regularly attend. Say hi.
I notice and appreciate the folks who show up every time. I learn their names. I see them and wave. They stay top of mind.
Never underestimate the power of simply SHOWING UP regularly.
Once you see someone a few times, it’s easier to strike up a conversation. You feel as if you know them. You have more to talk about.
It’s the human version of the Marketing Rule of 7.
Also, anyone who hosts events regularly genuinely appreciates consistent attendees.
Here’s the key → make sure you say hi!
Catch their eye and wave.
Send them a chat via Zoom.
Send a quick follow up email.
Don’t force a conversation if they are tied up but make sure they see you!
If you go to an event but no one knows you’re there, did it even count??? (Nope.)
Where will a VC be?
Wherever their marketing person tells them to. 😂😂😂 But, seriously, a firm-sponsored event is a great place to start.
Check their LinkedIn or Twitter to see if they’ve promoted or mentioned any upcoming events.
Feel free to ask them. It’s a great touch point and easy for everyone to coordinate.
I knew a great sales rep who used a variation of this tactic to build relationships with C-level folks.
Send an email saying congrats on a recent award or event
Write a hand written note
Connect via LinkedIn
Introduce herself at an event
By then, they’d recognize her name and feel like they must have met her somewhere before!
5. Share content or events.
Now that I’m an experienced, world-renown blogger (LOLZ), I really understand this.
Everyone appreciates a shout out, a share, or a kind comment!
Do it on the socials or send them a direct note.
It’s also a great way to meet someone. They’ll recognize your name even if you haven’t met in person.
Even well-known folks, who have an empire of content or success, notice who regularly comments or amplifies their message.
6. Be genuine.
Never underestimate the power of authenticity and being nice! It’s my favorite not-networking strategy.
Don’t try to be a certain type of founder or copy someone else. What works for them will be weird for you.
Even the most spreadsheet-focused investor appreciates a human connection and can spot a jerk, schmuck, or forcing it.
Are you a great storyteller? Do that. More of a listener than a talker? Fantastic.
There’s no “right” way to network. Be the best version of yourself and do what makes you shine.
CAVEAT: Everyone has imposter syndrome so just ignore that and lead with confidence. 😁💪
Founders — what other strategies have helped you build relationships with investors?
Investors — what strategies work best to build a relationship with you?
🚨 In-Person Alert 🚨
Want MORE insider insights and tips?
Join me IRL at Women + Tech on Wed, June 14 at 12p at the Atlanta Tech Village!
I’ll be talking about the how, what, and why of building billion dollar companies plus answering allll your questions about investing, pitching, and scaling.
It’ll be a lot of gals but everyone is welcome!