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Know When to Walk Away

Don't ask venture capitalists for referrals if they say they're not interested.

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This story appears in the April 2010 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

As a venture capitalist, I receive a steady stream of e-mail from entrepreneurs looking for funding for their businesses. I'm happy to receive these e-mails and try to respond to all of them. When they ask for advice, I try to quickly point them to something I've written or give a focused answer. When it's about a potential new investment, I determine quickly whether I'm interested. If I am, I ask for more info and engage more deeply. If I'm not, I politely respond that it's not my thing.

In some cases, I never hear from the person again. In others, I receive a short e-mail that says something akin to "thanks for your consideration." Occasionally, someone reacts negatively and goes off on a rampage about how venture capitalists are the scourge of the universe, how they stifle innovation by not supporting entrepreneurs and how I probably even kick my dog on a regular basis. This approach rarely elicits a response from me and is not particularly effective.

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