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Lawrence AulsAs a part of the 1776 Challenge Festival, a panel of corporate investors detailed some common missteps that they have seen in pitch meetings with entrepreneurs. The panel, as the Washington Post reports, provided startups some very valuable advice about how to effectively appeal to investors.

1. Know your audience.

A little research about your audience can go a long way to make sure that you are not only saying the right things, but are also pitching to the right people. A great number of entrepreneurs find themselves in a room with an angel investor group and are not aware of how these people in particular can benefit their business. Don’t be sunk by a lack of preparation. Know who you’re pitching to and how their strengths can be of benefit to you. A little homework can go a long way.

2. Get in touch.

Many entrepreneurs feel the need to wait before approaching corporate investors, but Grant Allen, a senior vice president of ABB Technology Ventures says that may mean they are missing out.

“The fact is, we can be pretty creative about working with startups, but we need to start having those conversations early.” Allen says, “Often, we’re talking with businesses long before we write a check.”

Even if your company is not ready for a multimillion dollar round of investment, it is still worthwhile to build a relationship early so that you are ready when the time comes.

3. Verify the accuracy of your projections.

Investors can spot when you are pulling your projections from nowhere so be sure to do the work and update accordingly. Some people will meet with investors and provide unrealistic projections that do not figure in for changes in the company over time or assume an absence of competition. Make sure your projections are accurate and updated for your pitch.

4. Checking in is not the same is changing.

If an investment group does not feel that your business is the right fit for them, they may offer you suggestions that might make your business a better fit down the road. This does not simply mean that it is not right time; it means that they would like for you to make the changes. When you receive such notes make sure they are applied before you check back in.

5. There is no such thing as too much practice.

Know your pitch inside and out. Practice in front of friends, co-workers and to yourself. Poke holes in your own pitch so that you are fully aware of your own weaknesses. The harder you are on yourself in practice, the easier it will be to deal with questions and arguments in your pitch.

To read the original article, head over to the Washington Post.