I was at an accelerator launch event a week or two ago. Great crowd, mainly tech fashion startups.
I introduced myself to a guy standing close by.
"Hi, I'm David", I said.
"Hi David, I'm Antonio [not his real name]", what do you do?", he said
"I'm a VC."
The look on his face meant that "Oh" was the dissapointing kind. The abbreviation "VC" was a loaded term. Clearly for Antonio, VC was not good. It was the sort of look he might have reserved for despised careers such as estate agents and politicians.
The conversation nearly stopped there.
However 30 minutes later we'd had a fantastic discussion. He was clearly an experienced startup CTO and once he found out I'd shared similiar experiences growing companies, the conversation flowed. Our reading lists were comparable, we knew a lot of the same people. It was a very enjoyable conversation and we've stayed in touch.
It was a conversation that nearly didn't happen because I introduced myself as a VC.
I've since adopted another approach. Whenever people ask now what I do, I say I am an "investor in early stage eCommerce businesses".
This generates immediate interest and it's not at all loaded with prejudice.
They say that first impressions count. How you look, how you introduce yourself, how you dress.
How do you introduce yourself?
Consider these alternative introductions and think about how they might be perceived...
- I'm a VC
- I'm an investor in early stage eCommerce businesses
- I'm an analyst
- I research startup opportunities
- I'm a recruitment consultant
- I'm a headhunter
- I'm a lawyer
- I'm a manage a law firm specialising in tech
- I'm a marketing consultant
- I'm a growth hacker
Saying what you do is more effective than saying what your job title is. Your role (what you do) carries less prejudice and it creates better understanding.
Now think how about you introduce yourself. Can you do better?