“We filter out half of these qualified interviewees in the first minute.”
In a previous post, I shared that the most important unimportant thing your new company should focus on is purposefully making a great first impression (Most Important Unimportant). This is not only true when seeking investments – it spans many areas of life including “meeting her parents”, talking with a professor, getting a good seat at a new restaurant, interviewing for a job and much more.
In one of my companies, we perform a lot of interviews. Each candidate has already gone through a rigorous set of questions and phone screenings before getting face time with the team. Still, we filter out half off these “qualified” interviewees in the first minute. If we don’t believe they are a cultural fit (a.k.a. – if we don’t like them), there is no need to assess whether or not they are capable of doing the job.
The same is true of companies seeking investment. I often never get to the point of actually evaluating the offering because that initial impression or group pitch just doesn’t impress me.
While choosing the right person for those encounters is very important Choosing Your Point Man, everyone in your organization is likely to be the first point of contact for someone at some time. Here are a few simple things to help elevate your standing in those moments and help you ultimately avoid funding failure:
- Dress Appropriately – You never know when you are going to meet a potential investor. Never present yourself publicly in a way that would embarrass you, your team or your brand.
- Make Eye Contact – It’s easier to believe someone who looks you in the eye.
- Develop a Firm Handshake – Don’t hurt me, but let me know you’re there. This simple gesture speaks confidence.
- Be Clear – Anytime you have the ability to share about your company, make it clear and concise. This is often called an elevator pitch. Elevator Pitches that Work
- Relax – You don’t have to diverge from your professionalism to put your audience at ease.
While your first impression will never result in closing the deal, it should at least give you the opportunity make a compelling case.