What I Learned About Networking from Sprinklr VP of Marketing, Jeremy Epstein, During my Internship

Jeremy Epstein at Sprinklr’s CXM Summit, hosted by McDonalds, in 2015. (Credit: Sprinklr, @Sprinklr)

​It’s a quiet Thursday morning in the New York City Sprinklr offices when a burst of energy enters the room. With a bald head, casual business suit, and a suitcase, he’s a Lex Luthor replica. His personality asserts itself immediately, and he’s not greeting his team without individual hugs (when appropriate, of course).

Jeremy Epstein has been with Sprinklr since early 2012, and he doesn’t flinch at approaching the intern table and indulging us with stories and wisdom. He drops a bag of Hanukkah gelt across it before sitting down. He’s being generous, but, “my wife told me to get rid of them and take them to New York,” he admits. If the chocolate offering wasn’t enough, he made sure to share some Jelly Beans and salad too.

How Jeremy got to Sprinklr

Before joining Sprinklr, Epstein owned a consulting firm, and business was booming. He spent most mornings wearing shorts in his basement office where he’d work and then take his toddler to school. He was making good money and didn’t have an interest in any career changes. But one was heading towards him.

“There’s a guy I know you need to meet,” Epstein was told by friend. “You guys say the same things, I think you’ll like him.” Epstein was willing. He’ll talk to anyone, that’s what he does all day.

One afternoon while standing in the airport waiting for a flight to China, Jeremy’s phone rang. The caller started the interaction by making demands. “I like your blog, I like what you say, but it all looks like shit,” he was told.

“I want you to work for me.” Epstein was taken aback. He wanted to know who this guy thought he was, and what on earth he was talking about. Epstein liked his gig. He took his kid to school, went jogging when he wanted to, and made great money. “You don’t get it, I’m about to change entire industries,” the stranger said adamantly. That’s how Epstein met Sprinklr’s CEO, Ragy Thomas.

That conversation stuck with Epstein. He processed it and tossed it around. When he returned from China, Epstein made the decision to follow Thomas and take a 70% pay cut. When he told his wife, she was slightly frustrated and caught by surprise. She had a few objections. “I think it’s a good idea,” Epstein retorted. He wanted to be a part of Sprinklr, and he could sense an opportunity; he was never in it for the money anyways.

​Fast forward to 2016, Sprinklr has reached Unicorn status and Epstein serves as VP of marketing. He’s in charge of partner marketing, analyst relations, field marketing, and Sprinklr’s budgets across the globe. All of this, on top of running LexCorp.

How Jeremy Maintains his Network

With headphones in and a half-drunk cup of coffee sitting beside him, Epstein has his head planted against the table. He’s either staring at the floor or has his eyes closed. He just traveled from his home in Maryland to New York City and his belongings for the week sit in a suitcase behind him.

Epstein lifts his head and chatters to a client about winning championships and being a good general manager, followed by other sports references. His dialogue is a blend of analogies and personal connection.

“You have to know your audience,” he tells me. If Epstein’s talking to a sports guy, that’s where the topic will go, but his range goes as far as cooking or music. He caters the conversation towards the demographic he’s speaking with. “As I get more information about you it gets filed into my database, my profile on you, and then I use that to try and deliver more relevant information. That’s all that is happening,” he says.

Epstein’s network was built through years of connections and frequent communication. He stays in touch with everyone. But how?

Phone calls. A lot of them.

He makes approximately 1,800 a year, about five per day. He calls his friends individually to say happy birthday. People he hasn’t seen in 20 or more years; people he might not have anything to relate with other than a celebration of their birth.

Now it’s joked about. It isn’t a proper birthday until Epstein calls, but sometimes the calls come at weird times, or from out of the country. “I do it because I genuinely like people, and I want to stay in touch with them,” he says. “How do you do something that’s authentic for you, but do it in a way that differentiates you from others? If you can combine those two, that’s marketing.”

Career Advice for Interns

We’ve been chatting for about 30 minutes at this point. I’m not sure who’s enjoying the conversation more, Epstein or myself. “There’s three keys to being successful,” he starts. “Networking, developing skills, and challenging yourself.” He reminds me that an internship is a gift, an opportunity. “Dude, don’t squander that,” he says.

“At some point you probably want to stop being an intern, so it’d be nice to figure out where the jobs are. Well how do you think that’s going to happen? It’s not going to magically fall off of the tree. Santa Claus doesn’t show up on Christmas day with a job.”

His suggestions are simple. Walk down on your lunch break and talk to everyone. Admit you’re an intern and have no idea what the hell you’re doing. “Here are people who are happy to talk to you because you’re an intern and they feel smarter than you. Let them.”

He says to aim for three meaningful conversations a day, everyday. That’s 15 people a week, 60 people a month, and in three months that could be close to 200 people.

Avoid sending mass emails. There’s a time and place for them, but they don’t show any effort or personalization. “If you want to convey Happy Holidays, either call me up or send me a note and say Happy Holidays or don’t bother,” he uses as an example.

“So basically it took you eight minutes to make this Happy Holidays card, which you sent to 10 thousand people. Do the math. That’s 10 thousand people divided by 480 seconds, so basically you spent, what, 0.0003 seconds on me? Wow, man. I feel so special.”

Epstein says networks are difficult to build and they will take time. Staying connected is a key to growing them.

Be personal. Be intentional.

​“Once you make these connections, it’s all about figuring out how to keep them. When I say grow your network, it’s like a farm. You’ve got to plant the seed.”

From left to right, cousins Esteban Contreras, Adriana Contreras, and Diego Contreras at Sprinklr headquarters in NYC. (Credit: Esteban Contreras, @socialnerdia.)

Note: this was originally posted on TheDiegoNetwork

http://thediegonetwork.com/stories/what-i-learned-about-networking-from-sprinklr-vp-of-marketing-jeremy-epstein-during-my-summer-internship

Show your support

Clapping shows how much you appreciated Diego Contreras’s story.