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January 10, 2013

Mastering the Cold Contact – What to do when you lack connections

If you’re lucky enough to have referrals to go on, your fundraising efforts are greatly simplified. At times, however, you won’t have the social network or the connections that would put you in touch with the caliber of people you’re looking for. When that’s the case, you’ll have to resort to contacting investors cold.

Cold contacting can be extremely intimidating and challenging, but with a few tips you’ll be tackling it like an old pro. Since investors are busy folks, the best way to make a cold contact is by email, so we’ll deal with that here.

Make your list

When you’re just starting out, you might have to be a bit broad in who you choose to send your emails to. As you garner interest, you’ll narrow your field to the more potential individuals or companies; but sometimes the best way to start out is to cast a broad net.

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Look at the websites of potential investment firms and collect email addresses of partners. If you can’t find a specific email address, don’t take the easy way out by sending your message straight to the company’s inbox. Call the company up and get the addresses you need.

Make your introductions

Your first email is basically to introduce yourself and let folks know that you’re looking for investors. You don’t necessarily want to offer a whole lot of information right off the bat, and you certainly shouldn’t send off your business plan when it hasn’t been requested. Simply make your introductions, explain the line of work you’re in, and find out what kind of investment firms you’re dealing with.

Send out a teaser

If an investor responds to your introductory email, you’re in luck! Put together a short “teaser” email to send to each investor who expresses interest. This isn’t an in-depth explanation, but rather just a series of bullet points explaining a little more about who you are and why investors should be interested in you.

Again, DO NOT submit your business plan unless the investor specifically asks for it. You don’t want to overwhelm them, so keep your emails concise and clear.

Prep your presentation

Often interested investors will ask you to send a more detailed presentation explaining the highlights of your idea and business plan. Take great care with this presentation. Put a lot of thought into the contents of your slide show and make sure that each point will be easily understood.

In addition, don’t disregard the design. If you don’t have an eye for design yourself, hire someone to put your presentation together for you. A really slick presentation can make a great difference in whether or not your idea gets any further interest.

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Present your plan

With any luck, you’ll be able to set up a meeting with potential investors. This is your opportunity to share your business plan and idea in greater depth.

Peter

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