I attended a panel discussion on how to select investors for your startup the other day. I think I'm still a bit before that phase. Probably the most interesting thing about the morning is that the VCs are genuinely interested in hearing from you right away. I suppose I should have a good idea first.
It seemed like the key to beginning a relationship with the VC community is to use that opportunity to build a track record of success. Effectively state your next steps, your goals and metrics and demonstrate that you can meet the goals you set -- even if you're not asking for money.
What you get from your investors, other than money, is important too -- don't just sell yourself, check up on your investors and groups they've invested in in the past. You've got to live with the people you choose, and chances are at some point you'll be working in difficult circumstances with them. Pick people you can work with who add value to your company.
As if I'm some kind of expert...maybe some day?