It’s never too early to start talking to investors. You have to create relationships when talking to investors. The sooner you start that relationship the better. Remember they are people too. They work with people they like to work with not strangers with a business plan. Reach out to them to get to know them and see if they are someone that can both help in your industry. Good investors a lot more than just a check, they are connections, knowledge, and mentorship.
What to talk about in the first meeting
Your first meeting should be about getting to know the person and what things they have an interest in. Look for topics you have a common interest in. You can only do this by asking questions not by talking. This would be your first big hint.
You can’t learn when you are talking so ask questions, shut up and listen. Click to tweet
I can’t tell you how many times I have met someone for the first time and talked about wine or where they grew up and not ever really talked about their business. But the result is I am starting to “know” them and vice versa.
Ask for advice. Ask someone what they think about some issue you have within your business.. Please don’t ask in an email or any type of communication “hey I want to pick your brain” that is so one-sided. Ask a question by saying “I would like to hear your thoughts on this issue” or “Have you had a problem like this (insert problem) and how did you handle it?” Try to ask about how they have dealt with something or how they would deal with something you are having a problem with. Be specific about it.
Share challenges you are having
Share with them the things that have challenged you as well as things you feel have gone well. They know your business is not perfect, and everyone appreciates honesty especially when it shows you have flaws. Believe me, the best investors are people that have an understanding of what you are going through. Getting investors engaged early allows them to be apart of your learning process. This also gives investors the opportunity to witness the progress you make. This is before they are writing you a check.
“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” – Benjamin Franklin
Follow through with things you talk about
Walk away with a commitment to keep in touch or keep them updated on how your business is going. If you talk about something that is not business-related and it something you knew about and they didn’t send them an email with more details about it. Everyone likes to learn new things about something that they have an interest in.
If you say you are going to do something after the meeting, whatever it is, do it. Do it within a few days. Doing what you say you will do, especially the little things is a trait that makes you unique and gives people confidence in your follow-through.
Treat them like humans, not robot check writers
Last but most definitely not the least treat them like people first and investors second. Follow up with them give them updates invite them to events you think they will find interesting. Send them articles about the information that you know they have an interest in. If you talked about barefoot skiing and they have a real passion for it. Then set up a google alert and find a recent article about barefoot skiing. Then send a short email like this. Don’t ask for anything, just share!
I saw this article on barefoot skiing and thought you would also find it interesting. Keep your feet in good condition. Look forward to our next meeting.
Joel Osteen said it best when he stated: “Friend, there’s no greater investment in life than in being a people builder. Relationships are more important than our accomplishments”.
As you can see, talking to investors is just like dating. You have to get to know them and see if there is a common connection. This is a two-way relationship so treat it as something you work at over time. You will meet some people you don’t connect with and that is fine, just go on to the next person. This takes time and effort so you cannot start too early. It is something you should start 6-12 months before you really want to start raising money so go out and meet people and ask for introductions to investors early to create in some cases a long term friend and mentor.