- On August 8, 2021
COVID got you re-thinking your life? Here are some great tips from Chris Fralic, SV veteran and VC, to be a better person AND build a strong network. (Check out the entire post by First Round Review, launched by First Round Capital to share information how to build technology companies here.)
- Be human to every person you meet. What does that mean? Be genuine, show appreciation, and listen actively. (To listen actively, show you understand and encourage people to continue. Do not be the lawyer trying to get your point across all the time.) Be humble (e.g., meet or speak live if you are going to reject someone, or admit where you are not good at something, which gives you credibility.) Try to give something of value to everyone, e.g., brainstorm strategies, make an intro, frame another perspective. All these things build genuine connections with people.
- Research what you are interested in and target people you want to be connected with. Know before you meet what expertise they like to provide, what are their key/recent accomplishment, and what you’d like to get out it if you actually meet. Fralic notes, “Just knowing this much will give you a leg up in the moment as long as you’re honest, straightforward, and have a clear objective. People approach me through email with ‘faux familiarity’ all the time, saying, ‘Hey how have you been? It’s been awhile!’ Nope. It’s been never. Just say you don’t have a connection and make a compelling argument for why we should meet, i.e. ‘You don’t know me but you’ve done X and Y, would you be willing to tell me what you think of Z.’ It might not work but it has a far better chance.”
- Ask people for intros the right way. Make it easy for the other person to say yes. “For example if you’re asking for an intro, write a self-contained forwardable email,” one that “has a subject line customized for the end recipient and quickly explains who you are, what you want and why.” Include your contact info including cell in case that person is a phone person (rarely the case, but you never know). Ask for the appropriate amount of time for a meeting. I hate it when people ask to schedule an hour with me when fifteen minutes makes more sense, or ask me to lunch “to pick my brain.” I personally don’t need a free lunch and am happy to give advice on a quick call.
- Follow up after the meeting. Simply by updating the person on how their advice went or by completing deliverables promised will put you in the top quartile of people! I find that to be the case — I give advice based on market research at no cost on a daily basis but rarely hear back on what happened. Those that get back to me I certainly remember. What’s key to fostering relationships is remembering what the other person said to you and building on that.
- Understand it takes time to build a great reputation and long-term relationships. Do not keep score. Don’t reach out only when you need something. Make it a natural relationship; send congrats, notes on something they’d like, donate to their interests, etc. An interesting metric on your reputation is your response rate. If you are getting less than 10% response, that is really bad. In contrast, a 100% response rate means you are not asking for enough! Finally, prepare as much as you can for an opportunity and then aim for the “Zone of Indifference,” where “you can look yourself in the eye and know you did everything you could to make it happen. When you’re in the Zone, it’s great if you achieve your goal, but if you don’t, you spare yourself the regret, doubt or stress you might have otherwise.”