As a venture firm we are constantly networking. Whether that be on behalf of our fund or on behalf of our portfolio companies, we are invariably speaking and connecting with others to build our brand and support our founders. We network with other venture funds and entrepreneurs for deal flow and to get informed opinions on markets that we’re interested in. When we are interested in a deal, we network with our peers and industry experts to support the diligence process. Even after we make an investment we continue to network with potential customers, investors, and strategic partners to identify new opportunities.
These are three distinct stages of our business (excluding of course building relationships with existing and potential limited partners), and it’s important to note that we don’t network in real-time during this process; relationships are built and fostered over time. In other words, we need to network regularly to conscientiously build relationships across the three key areas of our business; deal flow, due diligence, and portfolio support.
As a founder, you are basically doing the same exact thing, i.e. networking in strategically bucketed categories. You are networking with potential investors for near-term and longer-term financing needs. You are networking with potential customers who can benefit from your product or service offering. You are networking with potential employees to build the most talented team. And you are networking with (or should be networking with) strategic partners and/or potential acquirers to obtain valuable resources, distribution channels, and possible exit opportunities.
The benefits of networking are extensive, and the opportunities that can be derived from speaking with someone are essentially endless. A new connection that leads to increased, quality deal flow for a fund, or one that leads to a bundle of new customers for a startup, is invaluable. That is why networking is such an important aspect of the industry that we’re in.
Generally speaking, we operate in a healthy ecosystem with a pay-forward mentality, and it’s important that you make your networking interactions mutually beneficial.
We know that networking is both an art and a science, and we believe our Venture Partner Eric Kroll has a unique ability to perfect the mix. Eric has spent years working as an entrepreneur, advisor, and investor in various industries; yet he is most well-known for his ability to connect people. Eric and his team at Venture Catalyst took some time to lay out some tips and best-practices for in-person networking. If you want some high-quality advice from a networking expert, we suggest you click here and give it a read.