The Right and Wrong Way to Approach a Potential Investor

I was at a nice restaurant the other day for a business lunch. I walked in and sat down with my guests. A few moments later I got up to check out the lunch buffet.

Immediately, a man came up to me. “Hi Brian,” he said. “Do you remember me?”  Initially I didn’t. It was awkward. But after what seemed like an eternity, I finally did remember who he was.

For the next minute or so, we exchanged the usual pleasantries.  Then he said he wanted me to meet a business associate. This person also came up immediately and introduced himself.

Then came the sales pitch.

“Hey look, we are starting a new company,” they both said. “We would love for you to be an investor.” For the next five minutes, I heard all about this company, what they do, their goals for the future and more.

I don’t remember one word of the sales pitch. I don’t even remember the company’s name or the name of the other partner. While they continued to talk, all I could think about was how I wanted to end this conversation and get back to my guests. I finally said I needed to go,  thanked them for saying hello and wished them both the best.

It was a wasted opportunity for those two gentlemen.. Why? Because of their approach and delivery.

I actually enjoy learning about what people do. I want to hear about other’s business ventures and their products or services. I want to know who we know in common. And if I want to be an investor in your business, I do need to understand your work history and experience.

Why then, in this situation, was I so apathetic to what they wanted me to know? It was their approach and delivery that created my apathy. They chose an inappropriate time and situation to make their sales pitch. The whole situation put me in an uncomfortable position, made for an awkward engagement and took me away from my business at hand.

This person would have been much more successful with me if he approached me saying the following:

“Hi Brian, good to see you again. It’s Joe Smith. We met years ago. I hear all is well with you and your business. Hey, I would love to get back in touch with you soon. Can I give you a call or send an email? It would be great to catch up.”

That’s it. No more. No less. A few days later, when he follows up, I would have taken the time to respond. Maybe we would have lunch, or not. But at the very least, we would have some level of communication. As it is now, I don’t see any further interaction with him or his new business.

We see people all the time we want to meet or connect with in some manner. Sometimes, we have just one opportunity to build rapport or introduce ourselves. It’s a pity when we waste that opportunity because we let our own self-interests dictate our behavior.

A mentor of mine told me years ago, “it’s not always what you say, but how you say it.” Yes, content is important. But our approach to an opportunity will often determine if we capitalize on it, or if we waste that opportunity.

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