VC, A people's business : The Importance of Network Building and not Networking
It's 5:16 AM here at LGA airport as I await my 7 o'clock flight to China. I have not slept in over 48 hours. Pulled an all nighter partying for my birthday in Boston last night, dragged myself to N.Y in the early morning for meetings, and now have been preparing last minute notations for my trip to TechCrunch Shanghai. As I drank my 8th cup of coffee, I check my email for the first time since pre-birthday partying. I saw more then 10 emails from friends all over the world. Crazy thing is, I didn't even know these people 3 months ago. Now, they've become valuable business partners, and more importantly friend.
VC is a huge business of who you know. Whether it is knowing all the great entrepreneurs to source deals or knowing wealthy individuals to raise your latest fund, building a real relationship makes everything easier.
If you want to know how I turned simple conference meetings into lasting friendship, here is how.
When I first started building my network, it was an unorganized effort. I attended events and conferences that looked cool, went to startup weekends and hackathons, and tried to get in touch with all the local investors. It was a slow process. People barely knew who I was, and didn't really have much incentive to pay any attention to me. After experimenting with different methods, the best method I came up with was what i called the connector method.
The connector method goes something like this. If I wanted to build a strong network, I need to be known as a connector. Whenever I met with someone for the first time, I would automatically think of people in my head who would benefit from meeting this person and vice-versa. By repeatedly making connections for people in and out of my network, people automatically start to trust me more. Give before you take is crucial to building a good relationship
Once I helped someone out by making great introductions, they started making introductions and referrals for me without me even asking! the high profile investors and industry professionals who ignored me before started to take time to meet and chat with me. Before I knew it, I was making 10-20 introductions per week and exponentially helping out people in my network.
I hate the word networking because it sounds so superficial. If you build a strong network around you of trusted friends and partners, you will start to notice that it's actually really fun and balling to know everyone and can help people out by making intros.
Sorry for the short post guys but my plane is about to depart. In fact, this whole trip to China is paid for because someone I once helped out referred me to one of his connections in China, and had my ticket paid for. Yip Yip Hurrary.