Networking = “Thankworking”

Over the last few months many have asked me how we managed to get the contacts for IESE Meets The Valley. We (our team of 5) have done quite some networking to organize the trip and have some great results. We were invited to amazing companies. Personally I’ve been continually surprised about the openness of the companies that we’ve contacted and their welcoming responses.  So let me share three principles I applied while networking for the organization of our trip

 Authenticity

I would advise anyone that is reaching out to someone to be authentic. I’ve always shared that we were coming with 25 students, to learn and not to make money. Of course I am working on my own project and perhaps I would have met my first investor. But that was not the objective. Even if you network for a potential job opportunity or something alike, be authentic. If you do a job interview for something you don’t really like, I believe that often times the recruiter can “smell it” and you will not get the job.

Professionalism, Preparedness and Persuasion

Professionalism

When you get the opportunity to reach out to someone you should be very professional. You are where they want you to be when they want. You ARE ON TIME, also for a Skype. Then you make sure you don’t waste people’s time, which leads me to the second point.

Preparedness

You have to come prepared. This means doing a full background check on a person using all means available online. I will make a separate post on this some other time. I believe, you should never ask questions that you can Google unless they come up during the conversation. Also have a clear goal and don’t be shy about that. Ask yourself what’s in it for the people that are meeting you, what do they have to gain? A business opportunity?  press exposure? access to potential employees? Then highlight this during your interactions with the person. Sometimes the other person doesn’t have anything to gain. This is OK of course but you should be even more humble in that case.

Persuasiveness

Finally, sometimes you have to be persuasive. This means sending several emails and making phone calls. If you receive a clear (and loud) “no” then you have to be respectful as well and back off.  If the company is big enough you could still try another route. We did the latter successfully on several occasions.

“Thankworking”

I am writing this post while flying back from Silicon Valley to Barcelona so I guess it’s a good moment to reflect on this. In the end, our networking was all about merits and favors. People we approached for our trip had no obligation what so all to help us or host us. But still many of them did. Therefore I am very thankful for everything. In the end, in my opinion, this is the attitude you should have. You should approach people with an attitude of thankfulness even before they have done anything for you. This will lead to respect and all of the above. Networking in the end, in my opinion is “Thankworking”.