July 12, 2018 | 4-minute read (672 words)
By: Tim Malloy, Business Development Manager, NYC
After working with startups and VC firms for the past year and a half, I have seen many different approaches to networking with the VC community. The dreaded cold outreach, going to events, and getting intros are the big three that come to mind. However, in a fast-paced city like New York, one must be efficient with their time, especially entrepreneurs.
Here are 3 tips on how to effectively network with NYC Venture Capitalist (VC):
1. Do your research
Many startups I meet are always asking me to introduce them to VCs, but rarely do they know which ones they would like to meet. The venture capital community would much prefer that you know their fund and why you want to approach them. Websites like Crunchbase are great tools to look at recent investments by the VC firm, general investment thesis, see who the partners are and how much money they have deployed in a given year.
You don’t want to waste time by approaching VCs that don’t even invest in your type of company, so knowing their thesis is key. In addition if they are a smaller fund and have already invested in a fair amount of startups that year, there is a good chance your likelihood of getting investment from them has been diminished. Research can be initially time consuming but will end up saving you time in the long run. Know the fund thoroughly!
2. Leverage your service providers
I get it, the last person you typically want to reach out to is your sales person at one of your service providers, but they can be great people to leverage. The BizDev and sales person’s main job is to be out there networking and relationship building. I guarantee that your law firm, bank, accounting firm, or HR provider will know a fair amount of the VC community already and can give you great insight into who you should approach and may even make intros for you. Additionally, they will be able to invite you to exclusive events giving you access to different VC firms. Which leads me to my next point…
3. Go to events strategically
There are too many events in New York. Event choices can be overwhelming with websites like Garysguide, Eventbrite, Meetup, etc. Even if you find the right one with the VC you would like to talk to, there are likely 100 other startup founders trying to do the same. My tip is to find events that are not as known or private where you can have a meaningful 1-on-1 with the VC. As I mentioned before, your service providers usually throw these types of events.
However if you do need to go to a larger panel event, get there early, even before it starts, because likely the VC has already arrived and the host, if asked, can intro you directly. The mad rush that happens at the end of the event will likely not produce a meaningful conversation. Even if you get the VC’s email, there is a good shot that they will be receiving many emails that day. Have the host of the event re-intro you directly, because they have built that relationship already.
Effective cold outreach is a rare and impressive skill. Most venture capitalists receive thousands of pitch decks a year and narrow them to just a few investments. So my main tip is always try to get the warm introduction. The VC much prefers to get something from a fellow investor, one of their portfolio companies, or a friend they trust. Figuring out how you are connected to that particular fund and utilizing your connection for an intro will help save you a ton of time.
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