How can I be helpful vs. Is this helpful?
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How can I be helpful vs. Is this helpful?

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"Let me know how I can be helpful"

Investors hear tons and tons of pitches. They pass much more often than they fund a company so they have to think of a way to maintain a relationship without being able to invest.

The short hand for that method has become "let me know how I can be helpful." That response is so common it's a meme account on twitter with over 40K followers. It's a staple of VC twitter.

The difference between a good investor and a bad investor is their sincerity. But the words are often the same no matter what.

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I'm just as guilty of this. There are a lot of companies that just aren't a fit when we first meet. Some of the companies I've invested in I've known for several years before finally investing. Some of my favorite CEO's I'll never have the opportunity to invest in for one reason or another.

The difference in approach I'm trying to take is by switching the narrative.

"Let me know how I can be helpful" puts the ball in the CEO's court. It's up to them to decide how I can be helpful and until then I'll wait on standby.

"Let me know if this is helpful"

My hope as an investor is to be as thoughtful as possible. One of the values in having an investor you can interact with is that they're seeing so many different types of companies, models, and approaches. Talking to someone like me can hopefully offer a broad perspective in a way you don't get day after day in the trenches.

Instead, I try and ask "let me know if this is helpful" after I've taken the time to brainstorm the things I can do without any input from the company. This comes from spending time thinking about a business and what needs they likely have, and then doing my best to come up with some suggestions for them.

Relationships are built on trust and this lets me always take a leap of trust in trying to be as helpful as possible (including not making you come up with the ways I can be helpful 😀).

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