December 27, 2012
Offline. The "meatspace," as it's oft called, or even "IRL." Getting out there and talking to people is the easiest way to network and build business relationships. In his Tech Cocktail talk back in July, Zvi talked about his "luck surface area" and how once upon a time he was better at speaking to people on ICQ chat than in real life. As luck would have it, networking and strengthening business relationships helped get the ball rolling on what would eventually become Contactually.
Business relationships are important to everyone in any professional environment. From a CEO all the way down to an intern.
Network - As someone who just recently realized that they're in that same boat as Zvi once was, just talking and getting to know people is invaluable to your circles of business relationships. Go to events; ask for introductions. I've heard two things that should help: 1) people love hearing their name, and 2) be interested in other people. If you think about it long enough, it's pretty clear that both are indeed true. For the first point, many of us, me included at times, are terrible at remembering others' names. Repetition (and my next point of using business cards) will help you remember names and match a person's name, if not a biz card, to a face. And as for the second, being interested in others and asking questions is one of the easiest way to connect with someone, whether it be personal or for business. Business relationships are like personal relationships. You are talking to humans in both instances, are you not?
Business cards - This seems like a no-brainer, right? But I can't tell you how many times I've run out of business cards (from networking so much, obviously) or met someone who was out of them as well. Keep an eye on the number of cards you have left. If you're running low, order more. If you want to redesign them, don't dilly-dally. Get that done right away. I unfortunately fell in this hole at our company holiday event a few weeks ago, and, let me tell you, napkins aren't the best way to write down your contact info.
Follow up - It's funny how that works out. Don't let any of your new connections slip through the cracks. Because this is a blog post on offline relationships, emailing someone and calling that a followup is out of the question. This circles back around to going to events. If you see someone you know, say hi, mingle! Your mileage may vary, and being in D.C. does have its perks with a thriving startup community, but shouldn't be an excuse. I should know that firsthand. The key is to see and be seen -- veni, vidi, vici. As I mentioned before, putting a face to a name is a great way to remember someone, especially if that someone is you.
It's time to think about resolutions for the new year. Is this part of your plans?