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Why investors outside your hometown don’t take your calls.

I’ve spent the last few years on planes, trains and my Airstream. The conversation with entrepreneurs in every city goes a little like this:

Entrepreneur: “My local investors just don’t get what I’m doing.”

Me: “OK, so why don’t you start reaching out to investors in other cities?”

Entrepreneur: “Well, I have been. Every time I get on a call, it seems to end pretty quickly and the conversation dies off after that.”

Me: “SO STOP USING DINNER PARTY ETIQUETTE IN A BUSINESS MEETING.

Entrepreneur: “…”

Let’s say you’re calling an investor in New York City who wants to invest in companies, right? You know they’re active because you’ve been tracking them on AngelList. There’s no doubt this investor is active.

That New York investor is probably taking 10 pitches on the same day you call. And, while you’re on the phone with them, they’re thinking about 60 other things simultaneously. They’re thinking about their kids. They’re thinking about their next meeting. They’re thinking about the awful coffee they had this morning. They’re thinking about everything but you.

And then you call. And you start saying stuff like this: “Hey, how’s it going? Hey, so, where are you from originally? Hey, so, what do you like to see?”

You’re using dinner-party etiquette in a business meeting, and then you’re surprised when the business people are like, ‘I don’t have time for this.’”

DON’T DO THIS.

Traction is credibility.

If you have any traction at all, lead with it. If you find yourself talking about the product more than the traction, you’re done. The deal’s never going to happen.