Last week I attended the Internet Summit, including several sessions for start-ups and entrepreneurs. Here are some take-aways from the angels, VCs and others on the dais:
1. Grow your network.
One great way to do this is going to events and meeting people. Find out who’s going to be there and make a plan for tracking them down. Talk to people at your table and in line at coffee breaks. If you’re shy, bring a wing man to get the conversation going. Bring tons of cards.
2. Reach angels and VCs via referrals.
This is the most effective way to cut through the clutter. Ask mentors, advisors and friends to help you make connections. Or meet up with one of their portfolio companies and gain access that way.
3. Engage people.
When you meet someone who takes an interest, stay in touch. Make periodic contact – with updates, articles, your new deck or video and even a request for assistance from time to time. Advisors and mentors are more inclined to help people who take the initiative and put in some effort. Don’t make them find you.
4. Show, don’t tell.
The business plan may not be dead, but it’s not what you lead with any more.
- Make slides. Develop a 10- to 15-slide deck that tells your story. Answer questions like why you chose the management team, how you discovered the market opportunity and how quickly you can get to market.
- Make a video. Develop a short (2 minutes) video of your elevator pitch and maybe including a demo of your product in action. Post it on Vimeo or YouTube, tag it appropriately to aid search and share with your network.
And not just from people who like you. It’s too easy to fall in love with your own concepts and communications. Vet your business idea and your presentation/ video with honest people who will give you actionable feedback. Approach their input with an open mind and choose the ideas that will make you more effective.
All images from the Flickr Commons