Most entrepreneurs, at some point or another, will need to engage in the daunting task of starting a conversation with a VC who specializes in their space. No one likes to attempt cold calls and catch people off guard. We get it; investors are hard to pin down and can be a bit intimidating too. And cold calls are typically the least effective approach for connecting with a potential investor.
So how does an entrepreneur get on the radar of a VC in the right way? Ultimately it’s about building relationships: taking a longer-term approach to the relationship and focusing on really understanding whom you want to connect with and why. At Verizon Ventures we strive to be an open organization so we wanted to share a few tips for connecting with us, and with venture capitalists in general.
1. Get social and start reading
Every relationship starts with someone taking the first step. An easy way to learn more about who VCs are and what we’re doing is by following the information we publish. We’re social, so follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, and AngelList. You can also subscribe to our newsletters and read some of our blog posts. Our newsletter is quarterly, so it won’t bombard your inbox.
2. Play 6 degrees of separation
One of the best ways to meet someone is through a trusted introduction. One approach is to reference our LinkedIn profiles to find a common connection. You’d be surprised how many people can connect you to a VC. It could be an entrepreneur we’ve worked with in the past, a founder from one of our portfolio companies or even a Verizon employee. Protip 1: links to all the Verizon Ventures team member’s profiles can be found in the team section of our website. Protip 2: keep in mind when reaching out, you’ll want to make sure that the investment partner you are seeking is actually the right fit and is focused on your industry. Protip 3: since a random LinkedIn request is virtually the same as a cold call, try using the ‘Introduction’ feature instead to connect more effectively.
3. Meet up at conferences
We actively sponsor and attend a number of tech conferences across the country each year. These are great opportunities to meet us in person and apply some of your knowledge of us (see Step 1) to good use. You know what we tweet about and what we’re interested in, so strike up a conversation. We make it easy for you to know where we are; we’ll typically tweet about it and even list it in the Events section of our website.
4. Network your heart out
Just as founders are seeking investors, investors want to find the sharpest founders with the next big idea. Industry events – not just conferences – are a great way to meet other founders and investors alike. There are mixers, meet ups, dinners and more. Every event can be turned into an opportunity to cultivate a relationship.
5. PR yourself
You know you’re doing it but nobody else does. Be your own best friend and make sure you are doing some PR for yourself. Speak at a conference, teach a seminar or class, or write a contributed article for an industry publication. We’re constantly reading to stay on top of emerging trends. Get some buzz going for you and your start-up so that we VCs know your name before we meet in real life.
Now get out there and start connecting!