Have an Ask Ready
When you are reaching out to new people about your business, you want to do your research and be prepared to get the most out of these conversations. Before you hit up someone new, think about what your “ask” is going to be to get the most out of the time. You should also try to have a secondary “ask” in reserve, just in case you figure out that your first request is not going to fly.
I am active venture capital investor, so I get a ton of inbound on LinkedIn, our website, email, wherever. Some of this inbound is great, really on point for what I do for a living. Unfortunately, more of the inbound is just way off base. Sometimes this is people looking for B2B SaaS venture investors, which we don’t do and have never done. Other times, it is people in totally different markets like real estate or insurance or hedge funds. It would only take a quick scan of our website to know that these are not appropriate. My main point here is do your homework, figure out who you are reaching out to and make sure you are approaching them for something that fits their interests.
If you are a startup founder, I understand that most of the time you are reaching out to people that you are hoping will invest in your company. Many founders are constantly in capital raise mode to keep their business afloat. Your goal when hitting up someone new is to quickly figure out if they are a reasonable target or not. Check out their website, see if they have an AngelList or Crunchbase profile, anything to clue you in to their focus areas. Don’t ask someone new to invest unless it fits their strategy.
If they are not a good fit for your sector or stage, it is still OK to approach them, but you should have a different ask at the ready. Maybe they know someone who is a better fit for your company today. Maybe they can help you with a customer or partner introduction. The great thing about the venture and startup community is that most people are willing to help out if you ask nicely and are respectful of their time. Do the work to figure out what else the people you are reaching out to might be interested in and try to find some common area to create a connection.
One other pro tip here. When asking people you don’t know well for help, always wrap up the conversation by offering to help them out too. You would be surprised how infrequent it is for people to make this reciprocal offer. It really feels nice to hear that someone wants to help me out, even after I have told them they are not a fit for our investment criteria. And guess what? I always have a simple “ask” at the ready. I tell people to introduce me to any great founders they meet in our focus sectors of sports, media, fitness, and consumer. This is a great one because I am not asking for anything right this second from the person, I am just asking them to keep me in mind for the future. This can payoff big time when the timing is right.
Thanks for reading today’s post, I hope this helps you think about approaching new people and getting something of value out of those conversations.