Andy Wilson, Founder & CEO of Graphight (www.graphite.com), gives some real life networking examples. Andy gives you insight on how his networking has made his business successful.
- Be persistent when working for valuable connections
- Maintain confidence with what you have to offer
- Capitalize on connections through your own network
As a business professional, we can’t walk very far until we hear someone say, “You need to build your social network in your professional life to be successful.”
And I believe that’s true and a lot of people allocate time for that. But it would be worth giving a giving a few examples so that when you’re asking yourself, “Is this time well spent?”
I’d like to show you how that was well spent for me and maybe that will kind of keep you motivated to do these things.
You know, a key person in lots of startups is a key adviser or an investor. We have an investor who was the CEO of MTV and VH1, who is really relevant to a company I was working on and I didn’t know him but someone mentioned his name. And I asked that person, “Hey, you know what? Can you introduce me to that person?”
And the person said, “Well, give me a little intro.” And I set him an intro and this person responded and followed it up with a breakfast together and I shared some more information about my company. And I’m happy to say, by pulling that thread in thinking about, you know, “Do I have something relevant to say? Can you help me?”
The gentleman ended up joining my advisory board and investing in my company so time well spent.
Another scenario is how do you win the big deal. And we had a business that was involved in irrigation control for apartment buildings and Oakwood, which is a large owner of real estate and apartment buildings, would be an awesome client. I like, “Gosh, we could win that big account that would make a big difference.”
So I was asking around and send an e-mail to some investors in that company and one happened to know the COO of that company who was an investor. And once again, we had an interaction and he introduced me. And you have to believe by the way, you have something meaningful to say, right. So he said, “Wow, we have that problem.”
And I said, “Great”. So he got us plugged into the COO and we ended up actually doing a national rollout through pulling that thread-through relationships -- major win for us.
The third category I’d like to point to is finding talent. And especially in the tech world on getting high quality talents become quite challenging. So first of all, finding relevant people and then getting, you know, reeling them in. And one of our portfolio companies, we needed a new CEO. I was asking around, we couldn’t find anybody and I happen to ask a friend saying, “Hey, we think we need a new CEO”.
He said, “Well, I think this guys is busy somewhere else but you should talk to him. Maybe he’ll join your board”.
I went out, got the introduction, we had coffee together. He said, “Maybe I’ll join your board.”
Needless to say, three months later after talking more about our business, that gentleman became the CEO of our company and is doing an amazing job. So in each of those case, it wasn’t a cold call. It was navigating my social network into relevant people that actually made major differences to my business.
So when you think about running your business, if there’s key objectives on the horizon, think about, “Are the relationships that you can ask for or look for and find that will really move the needle and start investing your time to make those happen.