Even if there’s no short-term desire to raise venture capital, it’s still important to develop relationships with venture capitalists if you eventually plan to raise institutional money. The best relationships with potential investors start well in advance of a financial desire. Much like any sales process, it’s best to come up with a plan and iterate as necessary.

Here are a few thoughts about an on-going dialogue with VCs:

  • First, figure out how to start the relationship (this is often the hardest part — see Getting Access to the Old Boys’ Club)
  • At the end of the first meeting, ask permission to keep them abreast of the progress of your startup
  • Decide on an update rhythm (e.g. every 60 days or every quarter) and reach out like clockwork on that schedule
  • Create a potential investor update template and send the update as part of the rhythm (see the Monthly Advisor Update Email as an example)
  • Ask to catch up in-person or over the phone at least twice a year, or more frequently as appropriate
  • Remember to pay it forward and seek out ways to provide value to the investor (see VC Access Via Helping a Portfolio Company)

Entrepreneurs would do well to have an on-going dialogue with VCs so that when they do want to raise money, a relationship and track record is already in place.

What else? What are some other thoughts on the best ways to build relationships with investors?