A VC Shares 6 Worst Communication Mistakes To Avoid

  • Ben Narasin, the founder and general partner of Tenacity Venture Capital, receives a lot of messages.
  • He explains that he doesn’t read long emails that aren’t specific or explain his purpose.
  • It also advises against sending auto-generated messages and follow-up notes.
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author. Read the previous columns of the VC view.

Welcome to VC View: a column from venture capitalist Ben Narasin.

As a VC, I get a significant amount of inbound messages and read them all: emails, Twitter DMs and even those LinkedIn InMails.

Here are six bad communication habits that I encourage everyone to avoid.

1. Do not use TL; DR

There is a reason for the acronym. If it is long, few people will read it.

Be brief. Be concise. Write it for as long as you want, then re-edit it to be as short as possible or I won’t read it (although I will point you to www.pitch-ben.com to make a video pitch of one. minute, which I will answer).

2. Not being precise

Generalities are your enemies, details are your friends. Access the details that matter. No 10,000-foot “hand-waved” overview.

3. Do not tell me the 5 W:

    • Who are you?
    • What are you doing?
    • Who are you doing it for?
    • What are they paying you for that?
    • Why is this important?

4. Sending “Congratulations on your working anniversary” notes

I despise those preconceived texts that people blindly (and repeatedly) post on LinkedIn.

You don’t flatter yourself with me, you annoy me. Remember I read all of this stuff so I had to open your note to get this line of text to throw away.

5. Sending vague questions

Here are three unnecessary lines people sent me via LinkedIn this week only (because I accepted their LI invite?):

    • Hi. How are you? (Really? Are you waiting for a response?)
    • How can I help you? (How would I know – see point 2 to be precise.)
    • Congratulations on your success. Do you need help? (On what?)

6. Send the message “put this at the top of your inbox”

Like I said, I read all of my emails. If I did not answer, it is because I am not interested. Your sending of an unsolicited e-mail does not oblige me to reply.

When I get junk mail in my home IRL mailbox, it goes into recycling. When an unsolicited email arrives that after reading it doesn’t fit, it goes in the trash.

The exception is when I told you I would do something or asked you for something and I’m just hopelessly late because of all of the above.

So be brief. Be precise. And keep it relevant.

And don’t take it personally if I don’t respond. Everything is not for everyone.

Ben Narasin is the founder and general partner of Tenacity Venture Capital. His career spans 25 years as an entrepreneur and 10 years as a start-up investor, supporting companies such as Dropcam, LendingClub, TellApart, Kabbage and Zenefits.

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