Last week I wrote about my angel group’s efforts to maintain momentum. So I reached out to my fellow angel group leaders in the Northeast to gather their best practices and brainstorm a bit on some of the ideas I have been playing with.
Much of the advice I received was excellent and TACTICAL in nature. Some my group has done in the past, some not. Highlights include:
- The “magic” in an angel group comes primarily from active, effective deal leads.
- Deal leads burn out – this is a major cause of the “mid-life crisis.” Therefore angel groups must obsess about recruiting and nurturing new deal leads.
- There is no rocket science to recruitment. It is sales 101 – it is WORK. Set goals, create systems to track names & progress, leverage your members’ networks to get referrals to new members, etc.
- For many groups having social events or social components to their events is important for recruitment.
- Don’t forget the little things: name tags, name plates, facilitate networking.
- Social events do not need to be expensive, they can be simple breakfasts at country clubs and cocktail receptions at member homes.
- Purely Social events are DIFFERENT from recruitment events with a social feel. Recruitment events should follow all sales 101 rules: help prospects see their pain/opportunity, show your value through testimonials and compelling stories, have marketing materials people can take home, etc.
- Getting to new members via referrals is great, but there may be many excellent candidates outside of your members’ networks. Raising some public awareness of what you are doing – especially your successes – is helpful.
However, a few people helped me think about the STRATEGIC questions, the ones which one has to do first before any of the above tactics are important. After all, WHY will great deal leads join your group? An angel group should have a clear value proposition that it can communicate to members, prospective members, and customers (aka entrepreneurs – yes they are our customers). To create that value proposition it must follow a process…
- Get the key, motivated people in a room. Give them a blank slate. Ask them “why the heck are we here? How can our angel group be the best in the world at X – what is X?” Get to a consensus.
- Have that core group sell the idea to the larger group – this will take time (possibly months).
- When everyone SAYS they are on board, then you need to personally sell EACH member of the group, one-on-one. Doing so is critical to get buy-in and to ensure you have the RIGHT strategic vision.
- NOW start deploying the tactics listed above to recruit the RIGHT people into an organization that has a clear vision.
My thanks to the many great angel leaders who offered to chat with me (in the order I spoke with them): Dan Rosen, James Geshwiler, Ralph Wagner, Lucinda Linde, Ham Lord, Sheryl Shultz, George McQuilken, Peter Dorsey, David Verrill, Paul Sciabica, and Boris Batchvarov.