Raising venture capital money is all about relationships. You have to make genuine relationships with people in the communities where you hope to be funded. You can’t fake this. The trick is to be able to enter into a community quickly, make relationships quickly, and go back to working on your business as soon as possible.
You will be richer in the bank after closing your round, and you’ll be richer in your network because of all the great people you’ll meet.
You have to create a public persona for yourself and a matching one for your company. Fortunately, a lot of social media websites can help with this endeavor.
We live in a digital world, and people will undoubtedly look you up online after they meet or hear about you. So plan to take a little time to learn social media if you’ve never used it. Ask around for help if you feel stuck. Being active in social media is no longer optional in the start-up community; it’s a must.
When you raise money, the first thing that investors are going to ask is, “Who are these people?” The second thing they’ll do is search for your company on the Internet. Investors want to see how you engage your audience even before you have a product to sell.
You can use online tools such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and a website to create a public persona before you begin fundraising. Doing so greatly helps people remember who you are and what your company does.
Imagine having hundreds or thousands of people who are excited about the release of your product weeks before it’s actually available. Excited crowds don’t occur spontaneously; they’re created, just like boy bands. You have to cultivate community excitement by connecting with an audience in the ways that the audience members prefer to be engaged. For many audiences, the engagement of choice is intellectual, political, creative, or inspiring.
Whereas in the past, social media may have seemed like a waste of time — something for kids who just want to text, chat, and send pictures back and forth — today, it’s a must for business. A business that doesn’t have a webpage doesn’t seem like a real business.
Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn are all free in terms of money, but social media usage doesn’t come without a price tag. You have to spend a significant amount of time if you’re going to use these methods of connecting with your customer and community.
One marketing guru once claimed that 15 minutes per day spent on social media is enough to build an online presence and community. Even at 15 minutes per day, you are talking about a minimum of 5 hours a month on social media. Plus you have to balance your fundraising, product building, team building, and social media time to get everything done.