The Invisible 'Like' Button
If you keep all the content aside and take a moment to observe these interactions, you will uncover a subtle truth. Within minutes of meeting a new person, most of us subconsciously click the 'Like' or 'Skip' buttons in our heads. Now imagine an early-stage founder who is meeting a new person everyday to pitch his/her ideas. Getting a 'Like' from this person is the first step towards expecting anything else - be it the person's money, his fund's attention, his business, or just his honest feedback.
And, little things go a long way in getting 'Liked'. Here are a few we've seen that make a difference.
Share with a Light Heart. Often founders get so absorbed in pitching that they forget that people work with people, and not with slides, or market sizes, or even products. Share your story with a light heart. This is not about being fake, it's about being comfortable with who you are. Don't pretend to know everything. Being vulnerable is the first sign that you're human. The best way to share is to stop carrying the burden of 'the outcome' in every conversation.
Listen with an Open Mind. Even the smartest of folks cannot predict success. Founders must have conviction yet be humble enough to know that we're all equally likely to be wrong about everything. More importantly as a founder, understand what is at stake here - your time, your work-life balance, and a lot more, so open your mind when people caution you against something or give you alternative ideas. Don't focus on their words but on their message, and graciously welcome anyone who wants to help you succeed.
It's been an enriching experience to work closely with so many committed founders. I'm amazed at the sincerity of human interactions I have seen here. I have always believed that all entrepreneurs are special people; they're walking around with their heart on a plate, especially in the early days. That's never easy. And sadly, they often don't know how brave they are. Just doing this every single day with so much sincerity is enough to make them the most 'Liked' people in the world.
Anjali Gupta has founded startups in E-commerce, Translation, and Language technologies. She has been featured by DEMO, Entrepreneur, CNBC, and India Today. She has an MBA from Wharton, and has earlier worked at Amazon.com and Netegrity. Anjali loves exploring ideas that create new markets or tap consumer behavior. She lives in Bangalore, and can be reached via her blog anjaligupta.com or on twitter: @anjaligupta