Getting in touch with an investor is probably one of the hardest and most frustrating things to do. It is usually, step 1 in a fundraising process. As such, it isn’t to be taken lightly… The worst thing you can do, frankly, is the non-descript email to the info@investorsdomain dot com email that goes to no one.
Just don’t do it.
1) Research the Investor and his or her firm. The worst thing you can do is reach out to someone that invests in the wrong sector or stage of your business. Review their website. Read about what they are interested in, professionally and personally. This will make your interaction with the investor far more relevant.
2) Rely on a 3rd party for an introduction. If you can find someone that knows them, that introduction will serve you far better than reaching them directly. One tool I use is LinkedIn to find out who of my network knows them. This makes the introduction process far more relevant.
3) Keep your initial email short and to the point. Don’t over do it content wise and length wise, otherwise you are likely to have the investor gloss over the sheer mass of your email and relegate the email to the ‘to read’ bucket.
4) Think of your initial email as merely a ‘preview’ or elevator pitch and with a call to action, such as for more information if they are interested in the idea.
5) Don’t forget to thank the person who introduced you. If you want to, feel free to keep them updated on the conversation as well, but remove them from the cc of the initial intro email. You don’t want to overburden their inbox either!
6) Twitter is increasingly becoming an efficient tool for contacting people for quick things… if used sparingly and in a very specific and non-generic way, you can @ reply someone you are interested in to engage in a conversation or comment on what they said as a starter, but use this tool sparingly, don’t tweet-stalk someone.
7) Get out of the Office! Go to networking events. When there, find people to introduce you to them or network your way into the conversation, avoid interrupting ongoing conversations, but don’t be afraid to be friendly and try and work your way into the conversation if they are open to it, if they seem engaged, back away and come back later. Remember, you might be a ‘relief’ to the conversation they are having, but you don’t want to be the ‘distraction’ either.. feel it out, but don’t be afraid to take the risk…. and get to the point quickly. You have about 30 seconds to make your conversation with someone, anyone, relevant to them. BTW, If an investor gives you feedback during this conversation, the worst thing you can do, also, is to come across as defensive.. that will make you stand out for all the wrong reasons.
I hope that helps…
Remember, Investors are just as eager to meet you as you are them.. they are just very time-starved and don’t want to waste time on opportunities that are likely not for them.