Pitchcraft: What PR and Venture Capital have Taught Me About Pitching

Before joining TriplePoint I worked briefly for a growth stage fund at a venture capital firm, specializing in mobile, ecommerce, adtech, and cloud technologies. It’s not hard to imagine that my favorite part of the job was sitting in on the pitches entrepreneurs made to attract funding for their companies. When I moved over to the public relations side of the tech scene, I experienced a complete role reversal. Now I am the one presenting pitches, in the form of a tailored email or occasional call to a journalist. From this process, I’ve learned a bit about what makes an effective — and cringe-worthy — pitch. While I’m still always learning new ways to pitch, I’ve developed a few tips for pitching someone, whether you’re looking for investment support or media coverage:

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Six Ways to Stand Out at a Career Fair

By Valerie Turpin and Bethany Hill

At TriplePoint, we regularly attend university and local startup career fairs in search of candidates to join our team of lovable games and tech nerds. All of us were once on the other side of that flimsy banquet table, and know just how surreal and stressful a career fair can be.

After meeting nearly 100 applicants of varying ages, majors and interests at a recent career fair, we took away several insights and have outlined the key takeaways below for those looking to shine the next time they meet a potential employer.

1. Do your research. Before approaching a company, you should have a basic knowledge of the organization and its industry. Most career fairs provide each student advance information briefly describing each company in attendance. If a company seems particularly interesting to you, do a little more research. It saves time when an initial conversation with an applicant is, “I was reading up on you guys and think it’s so cool you specialize in video games and tech!” and not “Is TriplePoint an engineering company?” It makes us really excited when you already know who we are when you approach us.

2. Perfect your elevator pitch. Those who introduced themselves with, “Hi, I’m [Name], I’m interested in [this]” fast-tracked the conversation to a point where we could mutually discuss if a candidate could be a good fit. Be honest about what you want in your next job. Interested in PR, but don’t care in the slightest about video games or tech? Then TriplePoint may not be the best fit. Outlining your interests passionately and clearly will help everyone.

But Valerie, I’m a freshman and don’t know what I’m looking for yet!!!

Don’t panic! At this stage, it’s more important to know what activities you like over what career you want to have. If you know you dislike talking to people, hate writing and couldn’t care less about the games and tech industries, then that’s some direction in and of itself. If you like learning about cool startups, know you’re detail-oriented and enjoy writing, then we’d like to speak with you.

3. If you’re looking for a full-time position over an internship, be prepared to back up why. For a soon-to-be college grad, internships might not sound like an ideal option; however, not all internships are alike, and some are worth pursuing. Unlike in other industries, public relations agencies often hire college graduates at the intern level, with the opportunity to promote them to a full-time position. While many applicants have acquired the necessary skills for PR — writing, critical thinking and interpersonal skills — agencies also require background knowledge and expertise in the companies they represent. We’re both former interns-turned-full-time-employees!

Think of an internship as paid on-the-job training — at TriplePoint, we believe strongly in paying interns! An internship at TriplePoint exposes you not only to the basics of PR, but also to the ins and outs of the tech and video games industries: from the outlets, to the journalists, to major news and events. We look for applicants who can adapt quickly and move from an internship to a full-time position.

When being personable is scary.

4. Be personable. We really want to like you. Seriously, we do. It’s much easier if you shake our hands, ask how our days have been, and are genuinely interested in talking with us. We’ve occasionally had candidates at career fairs that refused to make eye contact or couldn’t seem to keep their attention on us while we spoke. We know it can be intimidating talking with recruiters, but remember: we’re rooting for you to be the person we hire.

5. Tell us something that makes you proud. Even if it’s completely irrelevant to the job, we’ll remember you better if you give us a particular fact or anecdote that makes you unique. Were you a champion equestrian in high school? Did you take a year off from college to travel the world? Can you recite the alphabet backwards (Valerie can!)? The more information you can share about a talent or experience, even if it isn’t directly related to the company or job opportunity, the more you’ll stand out from other applicants.

6. If you really like a company, follow-up via email as soon as possible. This is absolutely essential. Not only does it show you care, it helps us remember who you are. No matter how delightful you are, it’s hard to remember a name and face with every resume once you have a stack of them, apart from writing directly on your resume “I like this person” right in front of you. A simple, “Great meeting you and talking about [whatever cool thing we discussed]; I’ve attached a copy of my resume for your reference” shows us you’d like to move further with a career at TriplePoint.

Have more thoughts or questions on becoming a standout? Find us on Twitter at @valeriecturpin or @andbethanysays!

Photo sources from here and here.