5 Tips on How To Successfully Network with Venture Capitalists
Raising money is hard — and for many, finding the right venture capitalist is the hardest part of all.
You might have the best business idea, verified customers, and a track record of growth, but if you don’t know how to meet the right investors, your company might stall before it ever truly starts.
While people understand the necessity of finding the right venture capitalists, few actually know how to find these people. They’re as elusive as the unicorn companies they try to fund. However, if you can find the right venture capital partner, the result is a scalable business that has enough runway to achieve profitability and growth.
If you’re still looking to do the legwork yourself, make sure you take advantage of the five tips below. If you do it correctly, and if you work hard enough, you’ll be able to meet the right venture capitalist for your business.
1. Start With People You Know
The best way to find a venture capitalist for your business is to rely on the six degrees of separation. Start with the people you know. It sounds like an obvious way to network, but a lot of people forgo this necessary step.
If you’re a business owner or entrepreneur, chances are you know someone who knows a venture capitalist. If not, you likely know someone who knows someone who knows a venture capitalist…
The point here is that you want to find a venture capitalist who understands your industry and who can create synergies for your company. The people you know also know you, and they can put you in contact with investors who can help you with your specific business needs.
Start by asking your friends and family if they know a venture capitalist who is niche-specific in your industry. They might not know an investor directly, or they might know someone who does. It never hurts to ask!
2. Join Interesting Business Groups
There are a ton of business groups out there that specialize in networking. Meetup.com, for example, is a great way to find groups of people who share your interests. In this case, the shared interest is venture capital investments.
You can also check out business groups provided on LinkedIn, which is flush with user-run groups in almost every industry and interest. One of these interests, of course, is venture capital investments.
It’s important here to get involved and remain active. You aren’t going to join a 10,000 person LinkedIn group and get a venture capital investment just from joining. In reality, you’ll need to consistently engage with the group members and add value.
Steps similar to the above can be applied to any Meetup.com group. Get out and actually attend the meetups! Ask questions and, again, see how you can add value to those in your target communities.
3. Attend Impactful Business Conferences
Just like the digital business groups above, a great way to meet venture capitalists is through business conferences. You can explore Eventbrite to find some of these conferences to attend. You can also look for such organizations as the Los Angeles Venture Association that hosts these types of events and conferences.
Also just like the digital business groups we’ve mentioned, make a conscious effort to engage people at these conferences, and find ways to add value in your own way.
Before you attend a conference, make sure you adequately prepare. Tailor your elevator pitch to whatever the specific topic of the conference is. Once you’re there, a great strategy is to engage with an existing group of people.
As entrepreneur and lifestyle guru Tim Ferriss has said, sometimes, all you have to do is say something like “Hey, I’m a novice when it comes to ‘X.’ Do you mind if I hang out and listen to you guys talk?” People in large groups are more than happy to talk about their expertise. This will get the initial conversation going, after which you can tactfully steer the discussion towards your business goals.
For a complete list of venture capital conferences, go here.
4. Use LinkedIn Strategically
LinkedIn is a great way to connect with new people and treat them as if they’re in your first-degree network. It’s easy to connect with almost anyone on LinkedIn. In fact, as long as you can figure out someone’s email address, chances are they’ll accept your request.
Once accepted, you’ll be able to message these connections directly. Just think about all the venture capitalists you can engage with! To do this, use an email service like Email Hunter, which helps you by adding a “find the email” feature directly on LinkedIn.
Once you find a VC’s email, connect with them, and then send them an Inmail. Always focus on adding value first and extracting value second.
To help, you should approach it this way:
- Locate the top venture capitalists in your industry
- A simple Google search or LinkedIn search will suffice
2. Download Email Hunter
3. Connect with each of the top venture capitalists using Email Hunter
4. Send them a value-adding Inmail
- Never pitch anything right off the bat
5. After a few value-adding messages, ask for a coffee meeting or phone call
- Pitch your company at this point
5. Keep Your Eyes and Ears Open
It’s amazing how many interesting people you meet during the normal course of a day. Anyone could be the exact person you’re seeking. The person behind you at Starbucks might be a startup cofounder. That lady at the bank just might be a powerful venture capitalist. The possibilities are endless!
So, as you go about your daily life, make sure you’re keeping your eyes and ears open. Think of it as a never-ending networking event. Before long, you’ll start bumping into people who can help connect you with the right venture capitalist for your business.
I hate to call it the “law of attraction” — that book/movie is a load of B.S., if I do say so myself — but I will say that once you start seeking out things, such as a venture capitalist for your business, you’ll begin to notice more and more opportunities available to you.
In short: every day you leave your house, assume that you’re going to meet the right venture capitalist for your business. Before long, you will!
Remember that my team and I have helped our clients raise tens of millions of dollars in venture capital funding. We know how to introduce our companies to the right venture capitalists. For more information and a free consultation, visit our contact page here.