Our From The Trenches series includes tips, tricks and real-world advice from our seasoned venture capitalists. Check out other chapters from the series on approaching a VC and how VC helps the economy, and don’t miss the opportunity to send us the questions you’d like answered.

Q: How should I pitch my idea to a venture capitalist?

A: In person, if only for 10 to 15 minutes, is always best, and make an effort to get to know the venture capitalist well before you need money.

First, start out by telling the VC what you do and why it matters. Get their feedback, as that ticks two boxes: It helps you out (free advice!) and starts the buy-in process by the investor because they feel as though they’re a part of the startup. As your company grows, continue to update the VC on progress. Nothing is more validating than an entrepreneur who says what they’re doing to do, then does it.

For more tips on how to build a powerful pitch, check out the last chapter of this series, which discusses the key points to include in a deck and how much time you have to hook an investor before he/she loses interest.

—Bill Baumel, managing director at the Ohio Innovation Fund