How to leverage your personal brand to access and win the best deals

Last week we talked about the importance of differentiation for VCs when they’re raising capital.

One way that VCs can stand out is by being uniquely positioned to attract great investment opportunities (aka, deal flow).

You’re probably thinking, “easier said than done.” And you’re right. With so many VCs competing to invest in the best deals, it can be challenging to stand out from the crowd.

Below are some strategies that you can use to build your personal brand and create relationships that lead to top-tier deal flow. But first, how did we get here?

When capital is a commodity

Let’s say you approach a founder who’s building a business with some serious potential. You want to invest and you offer the founder $100k to squeeze into their latest fundraising round.

Around the same time, another VC offers the founder the same $100k with hopes of being accepted into the round as well.

The founder has capped the amount of money that the company is willing to accept, and there’s only room for one of the two VCs. How does the founder decide which investor they want to accept?

When VCs compete for deals, founders tend to look for opportunities beyond the money. This makes sense, right? One VC’s money is as green as the next.

So, what can you do as an investor to secure allocations in the best companies when all VC money is green?

Building your brand as an investor

Founders will want to partner with you when they believe you’ll be able to help them build a bigger, better business. And do it faster.

To attract the best founders, you’ll want to have a reputation as someone who is thoughtful, experienced, and helpful.

One way to build your reputation is by sharing content with your community.

What could you share?

There’s no single playbook for the type of content you should be sharing. In fact, it’s best that the topics you discuss and the ideas that you share are authentically you.

That said, take some time to reflect on what you think is most important in your professional and personal life.  

You may have just left your sales job at a high-growth startup and have some rich takeaways about what worked well and what didn’t when acquiring new customers.  

Or perhaps you love digging into market data and find it useful to share fundraising trends with founders to help them better prepare for their fundraising journeys.

It could be that you’re a fintech investor, and you’ve made it your mission to stay updated on all the trends shaping the fintech sector. These industry changes can happen quickly and sharing your findings is helpful to founders.

In general, try to be your authentic self. Creating content for topics that genuinely interest you will feel like more fun than work, and that will make your content more fun for others to read.  

How can you share?

With the vast majority of your target audience online today, it’s never been easier to create and share your thoughts.

Long-form thought leadership content may do best on a blogging site like Medium or WordPress.

Social media platforms are great for sharing small bites of information with your followers. Or tweet threads, as we’ve seen from people like Elizabeth Yin and Ankur Nagpal.

Does writing bore you? Audio and video media might be your solution. Dive deep into lengthy discussions or monologues in a podcast format, or share short video clips of key takeaways.  

Or, meet people where they’re at. Sending out a regular newsletter is a great way to get in front of the eyes of your audience.

The key is to create content consistently and share it out consistently. This can be scary to do to start, but over time you’ll gain more confidence in your content. And people will notice.

So, what's the bottom line? Make it easy for people to find your content and contact you.

Beyond deal flow

Building a brand as an investor isn’t just about competing for the best investment opportunities.

Your reputation determines who wants to be part of your circle, and ultimately how you build relationships in an ecosystem that relies heavily on connections.

Oh, and when you’re putting that fundraising story together and an LP asks how you’re different from other VCs, you’ve just solved one piece of the fundraising puzzle.

This article was written by Tucker McKay. Tucker is the founder of Ikaria Labs, a content marketing agency for funds, fintechs and financial services companies.