3C sponsored the Seattle Female Founders Alliance’s Inaugural Founder Showcase where eight female founders pitched their venture scale start-ups to a room full of entrepreneurs and investors. I had the opportunity to coach three of the presenters.
We also sponsor Founders Live Seattle participants in a similar capacity. So, I took advantage of being in a room full of start-up experts to learn what the number one thing they look for in a start-up is.
Each answer was unique and a couple of people gave a list rather than just one thing. Yet, there was still a common thread across their answers…
That’s right. Smartest? Most experience? Most innovative idea? Nope, nope, and nope. As one investor put it, “I’m going to spend the next 5-7 years with this person. The first thing I look for is if I will be able to get along with them. If I think I will, then I listen to their business idea.”
Certainly, you still need to back it up with the smarts, experience, data on the potential market size, etc. Just don’t forget to be personable and make a great first impression.
How can you be more personable? Here are a few things anyone who wants to persuade an audience can use to leave a stronger first impression.
- Smile – Maybe you’re stoic and prefer to be mysterious. At least flash those pearly whites while introducing yourself. You don’t want to be mistaken as grumpy or rude.
- Use their name – People love the sound of their own name! Plus, it will help you remember it by saying it out loud.
- Show genuine interest – Sure, you need to sell your business idea, but what is the person you’re talking to passionate about? Get them talking about it, and present your idea as something that can enhance or benefit what they’re already excited about.
- Be yourself – Tried and true advice. We can all spot a phony, and even when they’re being nice it makes you cringe because it’s not genuine. Don’t be that person.
The old saying goes, “First impressions are lasting impressions.”
Make sure part of that impression is likability whether you’re seeking funding, presenting to a room, or just networking.