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初创企业家如何构建关系网

更新时间:2014-3-26 14:24:36 来源:华尔街日报中文网 作者:佚名

The Right Way to Network
初创企业家如何构建关系网

With startup-themed conferences, hackathons, meet-ups and cocktail hours regularly taking place, entrepreneurs are in no short supply of opportunities to meet people who could be helpful to their startups.

But there's a lot more to developing fruitful business relationships than simply showing up at popular venues. Entrepreneurs first need to determine who might be the best folks to seek out as potential co-founders, investors and board directors. Then, they need to figure out a smart way to approach them.

This week, entrepreneurs and investors on The Accelerators, a blog on startups, offered their best tips for making valuable business connections. Edited excerpts:

Stop Networking, Make Friends

'Networking' is a terrible word. It belongs to that family of awkward nouns-that-have-become-verbs: trend, bookmark, friend and blog, among others.

The problem is that it's a self-defeating word. Networking is about cultivating relationships that will prove useful in a work capacity. But you don't build these relationships by actively 'networking.' A truly productive network is the byproduct of making friends.

Friendship is the first step. But a funny thing tends to happen as we get to know our friends better: We start to ask fewer work-related questions. We start to put up a wall between our 'work' life and our 'personal' life. There may even be a vague sense that it's rude to talk about work too much. This is too bad, because nobody is better equipped than our friends to recognize our strengths, weaknesses and interests -- the exact qualities that forge a strong network.

My takeaway advice is twofold: You can never have too many friends and remind yourself to be inquisitive about your friends' work and communicative about yours.

-- Neil Blumenthal, co-founder of Warby Parker, New York

Always Show Up Early

Some of the most lasting contacts and friendships that I have developed began by just grabbing a drink or breaking bread with a stranger at an industry event. From Mumbai to Moscow, Tulsa to Tokyo, here are my favorite tips for networking:

Be the first to arrive. Whether the event is an industry conference, trade show or seminar, everyone that shows up early feels awkward. The room is massive and you wonder if the three people standing around you are the only ones planning to show up. This is the best time to break the ice and get to know others.

Fly first or business class. Normally this would be considered an unnecessary huge expense for startups to undertake. But it can actually generate business. If you are going to a major trade show or event (think Davos or Midem), the people you really want to meet are flying at the front of the plane. To keep your CFO happy, fly back coach.

Get active in charities supported by your industry. There is no better feeling than doing well while you are doing good. The thankless hours that go into planning charity dinners, running a carnival and gathering donations for silent auctions are noticed and appreciated by both those at the top of the food chain as well as those at the bottom.

Speak on panels. Try to become a thought leader on a topic of paramount importance to your business and your industry.

-- Jay Samit, executive chairman of Realty Mogul, Los Angeles

Manage Your Connections

The most impressive entrepreneurs I know recognize their value is much more than the product they're building.

We send each other interesting articles relevant to topics we've discussed. We make mutual introductions to other entrepreneurs, investors and press. We (try to) attend each other's events. It is a professional friendship, and if there's a more meaningful opportunity to be helpful to one another, we'll both step right up.

Unfortunately, most people are truly terrible relationship managers. They treat networking like a scavenger hunt, racing to associate themselves with the people they view as potentially influential. Here's some advice:

Don't mindlessly attend events. If you're in FinTech and attending three e-commerce launch parties a week, you're misspending valuable time. Be thoughtful and targeted about where you go and especially how you spend your time.

Take advantage of existing networks.

Avoid trying too hard. Name dropping, bragging, embellishing your accomplishments -- don't fool yourself that people can't see through it. Startup communities are surprisingly small and disingenuous behavior isn't going to make you popular. Smile, be friendly, shake hands and ask questions.

-- Christina Bechhold, co-founder of Empire Angels, New York

在以初创企业为主题的各种经常性召开的会议、初创企业家狂欢活动、见面会和鸡尾酒会上,初创企业家们并不难获得结识贵人的机会。

但是,相较于单纯地现身于这些热门活动,想要建立起硕果累累的商务关系却并不是一件简单的事情。首先,企业家们需要判断哪些人可能是潜在的联合创始人、投资人和董事会成员的最佳人选。然后,企业家们需要找到一个结识这些人的好办法。

近期,参与本报初创企业博客The Accelerators撰写的企业家和投资者们就如何建立有价值的商务关系给出了自己的宝贵经验。下文是经过编辑的经验摘录:

停止构建关系网,请认真交朋友

“关系网/建立关系网”(Networking)是一个可怕的词。它属于一个由名词转变为动词的奇怪词族:这一词族中的其他词还有“趋势/倾向”(trend)、“书签/收藏”(bookmark)、“朋友/交朋友”(friend)和“博客/写博客”(blog)等。

问题在于,Networking这个词是一个自相矛盾的词。Networking的意思是培养能够对事业有益的关系。但是,通过积极地建立关系网,你却无法建立这样的关系。一个真正富有成效的关系网是友情的副产品。

友谊是第一步。但是,随着我们对朋友了解程度的加深,会发生一件有趣的事情:我们关于对方工作的提问会越来越少。我们开始在我们的“职业”生活和“个人”生活间树立起一道屏障。与此同时,甚至可能会出现一种隐隐的感觉,那就是,过多地谈论工作有些不妥。这太糟糕了,因为没有人可以比我们的朋友更了解我们的优势、劣势和兴趣了——而这些正是打造坚固的关系网的要素。

我奉上的建议有两个:第一,朋友永远都不嫌多;第二,要对朋友的工作保持好奇心并且和朋友多聊自己的工作。

——尼尔·布鲁门萨尔(Neil Blumenthal),纽约Warby Parker公司的联合创始人

永远提早赴约

在我持续时间最长久的友谊中,有几段就始于在行业活动上与陌生人一起喝饮料或者就餐,从孟买到莫斯科,从塔尔萨(Tulsa)到东京,下面是我总结的几点构建关系网的小窍门:

提早到达。无论是行业会议、展销会还是研讨会,每个提早赴会的人都会感觉尴尬。会议场所空空荡荡的,你会想知道你身边站着的那三个人是不是就是全部计划赴会的人。而这恰好是破冰和交友的最佳时间。

搭乘头等舱或商务舱。通常,对于初创企业来讲,这项费用会被视为一笔不必要的大额支出。但是,搭乘头等舱或商务舱实际上能够带来生意。如果你正赶赴一场大型展销会或活动,比如达沃斯论坛(Davos forum)或戛纳国际音乐博览会(Midem),你真正想要结识的人都坐在飞机的前部。为了让公司的首席财务长开心,回程可以坐经济舱。

积极参与行业支持的慈善活动。没有什么感觉能够比得上既能在事业上取得成功又能回馈社会了。你在幕后计划慈善晚宴、组织嘉年华、为无声拍卖收集拍品的努力不但可以得到食物链上层人士的注意,还可以得到下层人士的感激。

在专业平台上发表讲话。努力成为一名思想领袖,在对企业或行业具有重要意义的话题上有所建树。

——杰伊·萨米特(Jay Samit),洛杉矶Realty Mogul公司的执行主席

打理好你的关系网

那些使我印象深刻的企业家都明白他们自身的价值远远大于公司产品的价值。

我们会相互转发与我们之前讨论过的话题相关的有趣的文章。我们会相互引见其他企业家、投资人和媒体。我们会(尽量)参加对方组织的活动。我们建立了一种职场友谊,如果我们发现有可以帮助对方的有意义的机会,我们都会挺身而出。

不幸的是,大多数人在管理人际关系上都非常糟糕。他们将构建关系网视作一场寻宝游戏,迫不及待地想与那些他们认为有潜在影响力的人牵上线搭上桥。下面是我的忠告:

别盲目地参加活动。如果你就职于金融科技领域,却在一周内出席了三场电子商务发布会,你就是在浪费自己宝贵的时间。对于参加什么活动,特别是如何利用时间,你应该深思熟虑、有的放矢。

利用你现有的人际关系网

避免急功近利。对于高攀名人、自吹自擂和夸夸其谈的做法——别自欺欺人地以为别人看不透这些把戏。初创企业的社交圈子小得惊人,没有诚意的举动不会让你受人欢迎。你要做的就是:微笑、友善些、握手和提问。

——克里斯蒂娜·比奇荷尔德(Christina Bechhold),纽约Empire Angels公司的联合创始人

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