Be Resourceful & Build Your Network – Corrie Menary
Most of us have heard the importance of networking at some point in our career, but why is it so critical, and why should we invest time into building our network? Today’s episode is a deep dive into why networking matters and the hidden benefits from private equity investor and master connector Corrie Menary. Corrie is a Partner at Kirtland Capital Partners, and she shares examples of how the relationships she has formed through her authentic approach to networking have added value to the company. Corrie also shares the various ways in which networking can benefit you personally and professionally and why she recommends networking with a diverse range of people, including those with whom you may be considered direct competition. Learning to network has the power to unlock immense potential, so don’t miss this insightful episode which could have a long-lasting positive impact on your career!
Key Points From This Episode:
- Corrie shares some examples of how she and her team at Kirtland Capital Partners help small businesses grow.
- The approach that Corrie takes in the early stages of interacting with small business owners.
- How Corrie helps combat some of the challenges of being a leader of a small business.
- Benefits of forming and nurturing a network of people in the same line of work as you.
- Corrie’s thoughts on networking with “competitors”.
- Why Corrie recommends networking with a diverse range of people.
- The value of having a long-term perspective.
- A realization that Corrie had about networking as she progressed in her career.
- Being authentic is key when it comes to networking.
- Examples of how Corrie’s network has positively contributed to her business.
[00:00:01] ANNOUNCER: Welcome to Branch Out, a Connection Builder’s podcast. Helping middle-market professionals connect, grow and excel in their careers. Through a series of conversations with leading professionals, we share stories and insights to take your career to the next level. A successful career begins with meaningful connections.
[00:00:22] AD: Hey, everyone. Welcome to the Branch Out Podcast. I’m your host, Alex Drost. Today, we’re joined by Corrie Menary, Partner with Kirtland Capital Partners, a middle-market-focused private equity firm based in Cleveland, Ohio. Corrie shares her thoughts on building a resourceful network, and the many ways doing so has allowed her to add value to others. I hope you all enjoy.
[00:00:48] ANNOUNCER: Connect and grow your network. We are on LinkedIn. Search for Connection Builders.
[00:00:55] AD: Corrie. Welcome to the Branch Out Podcast. Excited to have you here today.
[00:00:59] CM: Thanks, Alex. I’m excited to be here, too.
[00:01:02] AD: Talking to our listeners for a minute, Corrie and I were just chatting before we were jumping on figuring out what specifically we want to talk about. A topic that came up that I think is really interesting, and we’re going to peel into a little bit here, is Corrie and her work today as a private equity investor is investing in smaller businesses. It’s a different end of the market, and it requires a different set of resources and skills and expertise to be successful there, all of which I want to dig into.
Corrie, maybe the opening question to you and hand the mic over to you here is, when you are investing in smaller businesses, help us understand, what does that look like? Why do you think it’s a little bit different? What does it take to be successful there?
[00:01:42] CM: When we’re partnering with small business owners for their companies, I think one of the things that’s a little bit different is that we really, oftentimes, have to get our hands dirty. It’s what we like about the businesses that we invest in. We think we can add a lot of value to them.
Oftentimes, it starts with really basic blocking and tackling that a business owner of a bigger business may have already ventured down that path. For us, we’re starting in the ground floor. Sometimes, it’s things as simple as finding the right business insurance, because the business owner really wasn’t focused on that. Oftentimes, it’s leadership. The business owner has been wearing a lot of hats, and they need help, so we’re doing some really basic things.
I think of a business that we invested in, in Chicago, they operated entirely on cash. It was finding transactional systems to help them invoice and deposit money and take credit cards, and just really, in some ways, basic things, but it was a way to make the business be able to grow. That’s what we’re focused on.
[00:02:54] AD: How do you successfully do that? How do you become what sounds in many ways, like a jack of all trades?
[00:03:02] CM: That’s a really good way to describe it. My LinkedIn profile has a picture of a Swiss Army knife. That’s really how I think we have to interact with our businesses, because you never know what tool you’re going to need to pull out, Monday through Friday. That is very much how we think about it. I think, one of the things that’s important is understanding on the front end, what’s important to us?
We invest in small businesses. We know that there’s things about how they operate that may not be yet optimized, but we have to prioritize what we want to tackle first. I think that that’s an element of how we choose to spend our time. Then beyond that, I think, it’s also talking to the managers of those businesses and figuring out what their pain points are. We can’t tackle all opportunities on the first day, but if we know the issues in the business that caused a lot of grief for the people running the business, and we can help them out on some of those areas, hat feels really good to tackle some of the issues earlier on.
[00:04:01] AD: How do you uncover that? What’s the approach? You go in, you’re meeting with a team and you’re trying to figure out where uniquely, how can your firm add value more than just bring capital to the table? What’s your way of thinking about that? How do you dig into that?
[00:04:17] CM: I think, one of the things that we’re often doing in early conversations with the businesses that we want to partner with, is asking them about what is keeping them from growing at twice the pace that they grew at last year? It’s just easy to give them a metric that they’ve actually achieved. If they grew 10% last year, what’s keeping you from growing 20% this year? As you talk through those conversations, issues will start to bubble up in terms of what are the hindrances to growth? Sometimes it’s systems. Sometimes it’s people. Sometimes it’s physical infrastructure. Just getting them to open up a little bit more about what does keep them up at night, I think, is good.
In addition to that, I think oftentimes, what helps trigger the conversation is just to talk about our other businesses. If we can give them a parallel about how one company never had an HR leader, and they had a 100 employees in the business, but no HR leader, and how adding that person to their payroll and making the decision to invest there and how much they’ve grown because of that investment, the wheels start to turn. You’ll hear a business go, “Well, gosh. If we had that resource, it might have been easier to recruit last year. Or, maybe we’d have less turnover,” or whatever the roadblocks are that they’re facing, they can see the light of how some of these investments will benefit them.
[00:05:46] AD: If I’m hearing your right, it’s going in, it’s asking questions, asking what’s getting away? What are the challenges? What keeps you up at night? Also, sharing some examples of areas in which you’ve seen success, or you’ve seen other businesses maybe benefit from certain investments, or from looking at things differently to, as you said, I think it’s a really good way to say it, it’s to get the wheels turning. It’s to get the wheels spinning, so that ideas start coming up. Through that conversation, you ultimately uncover the opportunities to add value, correct?
[00:06:18] CM: That’s exactly right. I think, part of the conversation that we’re trying to drive to as early on as we have an opportunity to, is to make the leaders of those businesses understand that they’re not alone in these challenges. I think, what we sometimes forget is, it’s really lonely at the top of a small business.
Oftentimes, these individuals are so busy running the business, they don’t even have time to really network outside their business. More importantly, they have a leadership team around them that might be running the operation, but they might not be willing, or comfortable to open up and say, “Gosh, what’s keeping me up at night is we’re out of capacity,” or, “I need a freight shipment to come from China, and it’s going to cost me 10 times as much as it cost me six months ago.” Because that might create angst within their workforce.
They’re hesitant to open up about some of these challenges. When we can be a resource for them to understand that, we have a network and we’re going to help them solve these problems, I think that that that provides a lot of relief, just in terms of having options. I call it a phone a friend, right? Sometimes you just need somebody to pick up the phone and call for some input. More importantly, how can that person help you solve that problem?
[00:07:33] AD: You’re being a sounding board to them. In many cases, just simply being a sounding board can be a helpful resource and uncover that. Now, you have those conversations and you uncover something, a place that they need help, or that there’s an area you can add value. How do you in your firm, look at actually going and solving that and accomplishing that?
[00:07:57] CM: Well, one of the things that I personally really pride myself on is being very resourceful. I think that that that comes from working at a small firm. We’re an organization of less than 10 people. When there’s a problem that needs to be solved, I don’t have a team of people to tackle it, I am the team oftentimes.
I lean on my professional network, whenever I can, just to get input and advice. It’s funny, because there’s a group of women in the Cleveland area, who are all fellow private equity professionals. That has been a tremendous resource group when we’re looking for solutions to problems. Just picking up the phone and reaching out to people. They don’t always have the answer. I think that that’s something that people need to understand within a network. It may not be the first phone call that yields a solution, but having a network that you’ve nurtured regularly will often – it’s a little bit like a spider web, your paths will lead you to answers to help solve a problem.
Maybe it’s a packaging supplier you didn’t know about. Maybe it’s a diligence provider you hadn’t worked with. I mean, the menu of situations that arise is pretty wide and varied. The first thing you need to be able to do is have a plan of attack to find folks that can help you answer those problems.
[00:09:24] ANNOUNCER: This is Branch Out, a Connection Builders podcast.
[00:09:33] AD: You said, being resourceful with your network, which I think is – I think that’s spot on in many ways. You’re leaning into the network of people that you’ve built relationships with over time, and asking them questions, bouncing ideas around, right?
[00:09:51] AD: A question for you then. I think I heard you say this. You said that one of the places that you look to is a group of other private equity professionals that are in the greater Cleveland area, where you all are bouncing ideas around, asking each other questions about how to solve problems. That is, and the reason I want to highlight this, I want to dig into this for just a minute, is you – what I’m hearing from you, you are a private equity professional, so those people, those individuals that you’re spending time around, they aren’t giving you deals, they’re giving you opportunities, necessarily. These are just other professionals that are effectively your peers, just in other organizations. Help us understand, how does that benefit you?
I ask it, because I know so often, I talk to professionals that say, “Well, I’m a CPA. Why would I network with other CPAs?” Or, “I’m a lawyer, why would I network with other lawyers?” Well, you’re a private equity professional that networks with other private equity professionals. Help us understand what the thought process is there.
[00:10:47] CM: Yeah. You could say that they’re not just peers, but they’re actually competitors. I do think it’s something uniquely Midwestern. I don’t know. Maybe it’s not just uniquely Midwestern, but certainly a pillar to being in a community, like Cleveland. I think Detroit’s the same, and there’s a lot of other communities that are very similar.
We could choose to close each other off and not help each other but I think the general sentiment for our networking community is that when deals get done with my peers, the investment banks want to come to Cleveland. They have a reason to want to come, because they know that there’s an active and vibrant deal community within my neighborhood. That comes about by having good, local relationships.
I recognize that there’s times where I’m competing against my neighbors for deals. Gosh, if I have to lose a deal, I’d rather lose it to someone who’s a neighbor that does great work, and is going to be a good steward of a business, than to lose to a firm that I’ve never heard of. I think, oftentimes, the reason that this is the most effective networking group is because on a day-to-day basis, they’re tackling the same problems that I have.
Maybe they’re further along in a certain on a certain kind of a business journey because they invest in larger businesses. Maybe they’re further along in this business journey, because they have more experience with distressed businesses. Who knows what the menu of reasons is that they might have an avenue, or an answer to a problem that I’m facing today? It’s tremendously helpful to have a group of people you trust, and that is looking out for you, and similarly knows that they can come to you when they have situations that arise as well.
[00:12:34] AD: Again, I think this is a really important point, the point that I think pointing out that they are competitors in many ways, is a really important element behind this. That you’re not going and building a network and building relationships with these individuals, because you expect them to necessarily give you a deal flow, or anything that might directly turn into a revenue-generating opportunity for you. This is purely about gaining additional knowledge and experience from your peers and learning from one another, correct?
[00:13:00] CM: That’s exactly right. I think sometimes, having worked at a small firm, I don’t have the benefit of having a peer network within my business, because we’re so small. So when I need to reach out for career development, development of the businesses that we’re invested in, it’s going to be external, rather than internal.
[00:13:27] AD: Corrie, let’s shift directions here for a minute. I want to just dive into, how do you actually get to the point where you have a network to leverage and to be resourceful with? You’ve built your career and have built a strong network that has helped you be successful in what you’re doing. What are some of the things, if you look back in your efforts that have worked well for you, to help you actually get to where you are with your network?
[00:13:51] CM: Well, I think the first thing just to fully disclose is, like a lot of young and very busy professionals, there had been windows in my life where I’ve neglected my network. I’m not proud of that. It’s something that as I’ve gotten older, and when I have an opportunity to meet with younger professionals, I really encourage them to always make networking a priority.
I certainly have personal regrets for having windows where I haven’t given it as much attention as I should. I think of it as, as you get busy when you’re an associate, or a young VP, you oftentimes are so head-down in terms of the work that you’re doing for your firm, that you don’t think of this as also being part of your job. It’s a lot harder to pick up the pieces if you’ve neglected that for a while. That’s something just in terms of being completely transparent, that if I could do over again, I would do differently.
I think one of the things that I have focused on is trying to network in different places, which sometimes is a little bit off the beaten path. For example, joining a local Chamber of Commerce. It can be a little uncomfortable when you walk in the room and you realize not everybody’s exactly like you. It’s not accountants and lawyers and private equity people and investment banks. My gosh, you can learn an awful lot from an audience that’s different than you.
I think, obviously, one of the things that tends to be a popular discussion today is diversity as well. Just take the time to network with people that don’t like look you, that don’t live in the same part of the country as you. Gosh, I don’t even know, different political affiliations than you. I mean, as uncomfortable as some of those steps might be, you’re going to learn things that you wouldn’t have otherwise learned if everyone in your network is identical to who you are.
[00:15:49] AD: I want to hone in on that. You’re going to learn things. At the end of the day, my view of networking many times is, of course there’s an element of, whether it be in your case, deal generation, or being resourceful and helping out a client, whatever it might be, where you’re actually looking for some form of a conversion, of course that’s part of it at times. To me, networking and my own experience around it, the biggest benefit has been what I’ve learned. What I learned from people. What I learned from talking to other people.
Your exact point around, just networking off the beaten path, I like saying it that way. You’re looking for different areas where you’re constantly surrounding yourself with others that have different perspectives from you, which just gives you more things to think on. Doesn’t mean you always agree with their perspective. It doesn’t mean that everything they say is right. Sometimes, you’re going to have conversations you don’t learn anything from, but you’re going to learn a different perspective. You’re going to see something from a different light. That in its own can be very helpful to evolve your own way of thinking, which at the end of the day, is how you add value, right? It’s how you think. It’s how do you solve problems, right?
[00:16:52] CM: For sure. I think that what I’ve learned in at least private equity, we were talking earlier about needing to be the jack of all trades. Just because I don’t think something is a valuable nugget for me today, doesn’t mean that two or three years from now, I’m not going to reflect upon that conversation and say, “Hey, it’s really helpful to know somebody in the utility industry. Hey, I’m glad that if I have to make a phone call for this situation, that I actually have someone in my network that I can reach out to.” Having a bigger picture perspective than just being focused on tomorrow.
[00:17:27] AD: You never know, right? You never know what’s – Actually, what’s interesting, and tying this back to a little bit what you said about neglecting your network. I like, you’re talking about someone as you get that in the private equity investment banking world, it’s associate VP in the accounting world, it’s probably lead associate manager somewhere in that area. In the legal world, it’s probably junior partners, senior associates, somewhere in that area, where it’s that career transition, where you’ve gotten going in your career, you’re good at what you do. Because you’re good at what you do, you have a lot of work to do. That always takes over. Your head’s down. Especially, that’s also the age that many people are starting a family and building a life and all those other things that go on. It’s very easy.
I talk to countless professionals that, between 30 and 40, just put networking and relationship building on the backburner almost entirely. Then, they get to 40s and maybe 50s in their career, and they’re saying, “Whoa. I don’t have that network to lead into.” You have to pick those pieces up. One of the things that you said, you never know and thinking long-term, that can help you realize why it’s important to make time and prioritize that time now, right?
[00:18:44] CM: I will say that that balance of family is a constraint for so many young professionals today. Interestingly, as my career has advanced, equally men and women, I mean, I find that male professionals are investing more time in their families than they might have 15, 20 years ago. It’s not a single-gender issue, I think it’s a career development issue, honestly, at this point in time, where it’s hard to balance.
[00:19:14] ANNOUNCER: This is Branch Out, bringing you candid conversations with leading middle-market professionals.
[00:19:23] AD: What would you say to someone trying to balance, and understand, there’s no simple answer, right? If there’s a black and white answer, we would all solve it and that wouldn’t be a problem. The truth is, it’s complex. Looking at maybe some of your own life experiences, and you say you look back and you neglected your network, you had to pick up some of the pieces, where are places that maybe you would recommend to someone to try to figure out how to prioritize and create some of that additional space to continue to nurture their network, while still building their career and juggling a family?
[00:19:49] CM: Yeah. I think there’s a couple places that I would point to. I had a perception for a point in my life that networking only could happen after work hours. Either first thing in the morning, or at the end of the day, because internally, I was going to be perceived as not doing the rest of my job.
As I’ve gotten older, I certainly understand that networking is part of my job. There is nothing wrong with me attending an ECG event during the middle of the day, or having lunch with someone and nurturing that network during business hours. I think, beyond that, sometimes it just comes from the simplicity of letting someone know you’re thinking about them. It could be as simple as shooting someone a note and saying, “Hey, I remember a couple months ago, you mentioned to me that your daughter was going off to kindergarten this year, and you were nervous about it. I hope her transition has gone well.” If you say that in August or September, when school started, that takes five minutes of your time. Letting someone know that you’re connected to them as a person, and that you were thinking about them, can go a long way without it taking a lot of time.
Obviously, all of that starts with, all of those efforts need to be sincere. If that’s not who you are, and you’re doing it for purposes only checking a box, it’s going to be visible to the other person. If you’re wired that way, and someone does pop in your head, don’t just let it sit in your head. Actually, take the time to let them know that you were thinking about them. Just be authentic. I think at the end of the day, that’s a really core part of sustaining a network, even when you don’t have as much time to invest in it as you might like.
[00:21:34] AD: Well, what I hear you saying there is, it is – being authentic and recognizing that at the end of the day, if you truly want to just get to know someone, you care about the other person, you want to build a relationship. It’s not just about what’s in it for me. It’s not just about the short-term thinking. It’s just, “Hey, you’re another human. We’re both professionals. We have something in common. Just checking in, see how you’re doing, or when you have time, let’s grab lunch, let’s grab coffee,” whatever it might be, but it’s genuine in how you’re approaching that is critical.
I also thought that was really important, is you had said, it doesn’t have to just be after hours. Recognizing, most of us eat lunch every day. Finding an hour, hour and a half to go out and grab lunch with someone is a really easy way to break up your workday. You probably do better work by taking a break in the middle of the day anyway and clearing your head for a little while. It can be an excellent way to go socialize with someone, to have a conversation with someone, someone that you enjoy spending time with. That is networking. That is the act of going and networking, and it fits in everything you’re doing, right?
[00:22:38] CM: Right. It didn’t change when you got home in the evening. I mean, maybe by 10 minutes. At the end of the day, it’s still maintaining the balance that you need, work and home.
[00:22:48] AD: Yeah. I think, that’s a really important point, is that it doesn’t have to just be after hours. You can make it work. You can find ways to make that work if you genuinely and authentically care and want to build those relationships. Let me ask you then now, you talk about the importance, we talked about the importance of building that network. What do you do to really build that connection with someone and try to foster that longer-term connectivity, that real relationship? Not the high-level, you mentioned a networking event, well, I’ll send you a check in every quarter to see how you’re doing, but really build a connection with someone that thinks about you, or that when you call them, that they’ll pick up your call and be willing to share knowledge with you and willing to really connect with you?
[00:23:34] CM: I think, sometimes, this just comes down to whether you’re wired this way. I don’t know that this is something that is easy to teach people. I personally really thrive around connecting people. I mean, it sounds cheesy, but I feel I’m a little bit of a matchmaker. When I think of opportunities that I’ve had in my career to really strengthen my relationship with someone, it’s usually when I’m not thinking about me. It’s when I’m finding a reason to be really helpful to someone else that I care about. At the end of the day, that’s generally who you’re going to extend the most effort for.
You find a way to make an introduction for them that was really valuable to them, or help them solve a problem that was pressing. Again, I generally just do it, because I want to help that person. Those are people that remember that. Six months from now, or a year from now when something else comes about in their world where they can help me, they’re going to go out of their way to do that. I think, it’s that servant leadership, thinking of how you’re going to help somebody else first, and you’re not worried about whether it’s going to come back at you, because it will. I can’t promise in the cosmic world its is going to come back necessarily from that person. Over time, it always circles its way back around.
[00:24:55] AD: It’s looking for ways to add value. It’s looking for ways to go out in the market, to the people you know and say, “How can I help you? Who can I introduce you to? What problems can I help you solve? Where can I provide insight?” Not with the expectation of what’s in it for me. Looking to just simply build that and know that, as you said, in the big picture, it will all work out in your favor, if you continuously approach it that way.
[00:25:19] CM: It’ll work out in a fair and balanced way, where you will get your fair share for sure.
[00:25:25] My final question or topic I want to talk on with you then is, we hit on this a little bit earlier, but we say about having a resourceful network. Share just some thoughts you have about how your network has been resourceful to you? The whole purpose of me asking this, what I’m trying to drive to for our listeners, is, when you’re in that phase of your career, where you’re busy, you’re balancing work, you’re balancing family, you always feel you have too much going on and you always feel there just isn’t enough time to go network, it does require some additional dedication, some additional effort sometimes, to really be successful at it. I think, having an understanding of what the long-term outcomes can be, what some of the longer-term values can be, and how that network can truly be significantly more valuable to you than you realize is helpful to keep you motivated. Again, my question is, where is your network resourceful to you? How do you gain value from your network?
[00:26:22] CM: Well, I can tell you one very obvious example of that is when you need to hire people. I can give an example within our own staff at Kirtland and I could give you 10 other examples probably, within our portfolio companies.
We had a search a number of years ago, to bring onboard a new associate. We had recruiters looking for us left, right, up, down, trying to find someone. In a very casual conversation I had with a lender friend of mine, I said, “Hey, we’ve got this opening. Let me know if you’ve got any ideas.” He had changed jobs within the last year or two. He said, “At my last employer, there was a rock star young guy that you need to have a conversation with.”
The reality is, this rock star young guy was not looking for a job. He was happy in his career. Really wasn’t even on his radar yet to consider a career transition. That kind of an endorsement from someone I trusted, opened a door that wasn’t even open, right? It gave me a window to say, “Please have a conversation with me.” There’s some level of persistence to get somebody off the fence, I think, when they’re not sure about making a career move.
I invested the time. Through that referral, we were able to bring on Johnny Feredo to our team, who’s been amazing. We’ve done the same in portfolio companies. That’s a very small example of one way that we’ve worked our network. I think, when we’re trying to do diligence on deals, sometimes larger firms might hire someone to do some of the external diligence. I’ve used my network to get smarter on a deal opportunity.
We were looking at a business in the last six months. I called some accounting firms, because I figured accounting firms have a really diverse client base. They might be able to make introductions to business owners, that would be customers of the company that I’m trying to invest in. Not direct customers, but just buyers of the product and, “Tell me how you make a purchasing decision. What’s important to you, and what are you worried about?” Those conversations were so helpful in helping us understand how the customers think about the product.
It wasn’t convoluted. It was just reaching out to people that we give business to, and they have good, trusted client relationships who were willing to open up, but tremendously helpful. Those would be two examples. I don’t know if that’s enough for you.
[00:28:57] AD: No. I think those are both great. Again, just recapping this back to listeners. If you’re thinking about, you’re building your network out and thinking about, “What does that look like long-term?” The example you’re giving Corrie, you are in a senior leadership position, where you have to find talent, where you have to be smart about an industry and understand dynamics of different opportunities to make better decisions as a company and as an organization.
All of that comes back to leaning in and leveraging your network, right? Being resourceful with your network to ultimately uncover either the people, the talent side of things, or the knowledge, the answers, the way of thinking that helps you make better decisions for yourself, for your firm, for your portfolio companies. Again, all of that is because you’re using your network and able to leverage that network through the relationships you built, gain the knowledge and frankly, none of that has anything to do with the actual revenue generating part. None of that has anything to do with generating revenue. That’s just other value that comes out of building that network.
[00:30:07] CM: Yes. Many people that I meet with will never be a deal source for me. There’s nothing wrong with that. Hopefully, that my relationship with them will bring them value. Obviously, theirs will bring me value over time. I have tried to be a little bit bigger picture.
[00:30:23] AD: Well, Corrie. I think that’s a smart way of looking at it. Let me give just a quick recap of what we talked about today for our listeners. We talked about, you are, as a private equity investor, investing in smaller businesses. You have to get your hands dirty. You have to be a Swiss Army knife, and you have to really look at the ownership, or the owners of the company that you’re looking to invest in and ask them questions to understand what’s important to them.
How you as a professional are successful in this is really about being resourceful with your network; having a strong professional network to lean into. What you hit on is that you actually have a pretty strong network with your, what we said, competitors, with others that are in very similar roles to you, that are working in the same industry and aren’t going to likely, ever be any form of a referral source necessarily, or a business opportunity source, but you can learn a lot from them. You can gain a lot of knowledge and a lot of value.
That really brought us down the conversation of how do you build that resourceful network? How do you create that for yourself and for your organization? You’d pointed out that as a younger professional, you have to keep doing it. You have to put the work in. It takes time. There’s no shortcut to this. This is a career-long process of building your network and truly nurturing relationships with others.
You had said that you looked back and you neglected your network for a little while, and you had to pick the pieces up. That frankly, it made it harder. Your recommendation really, is for people to always make networking a priority, and look to get out there and constantly prioritize it, find ways to balance it, find ways to make it work.
Then, you’d also mention that in your networking, you try to go off the beaten path sometimes. Have some diversity in your network. You never know where you’re going to – you’re going to bump into someone that might lead to something, or you never going to know where you have a question about something, where you may have met the right person that can help you answer that question. You have to be seeking to have some of that diversity in your networking.
You’d also mentioned that networking, and this is going back to the topic of balancing, how do you make networking happen? How is a busy professional, especially in that young, mid-career section, how do you balance that? Well, networking doesn’t always have to be after hours. You don’t have to go to the happy hour in the evening to form a networking. You can go to lunch and have lunch with someone, or you can, even simpler than that, send a little note thinking, “This is coming up for you. How are you doing? Saw this, thought of you, thought it might be a fit for you, met this person, thought it might be a good connection for you.”
As long as you’re doing those things from an authentic and genuine mindset, all of that is going to give you an opportunity to truly build relationships with people, continue to create value for them and help you build that longer-term network. That really brought us to the end of the conversation where, “Okay, well, I’ve built the network, what does it do for me?” Two of the examples that you brought up is, for you and your firm, and your portfolio companies, you’re able to source talent and you’re able to get smart about an industry, or get smart about a business challenge that you’re facing and make better decisions.
Again, neither of those are revenue generating, but both of those are huge values that you’re able to generate out of your resourceful network. That took you years of building those relationships to get there. A mindset that at the end of the day, if you go out there, you consistently are looking for ways to add value to people and authentically looking to build relationships with others. In the big picture, it will all work out and you’ll be better off with a strong network than you would be if you didn’t have that network. Anything I missed in the summary there?
[00:34:03] CM: I think you nailed it, Alex.
[00:34:05] AD: Awesome. Call to action for our listeners today. I’d like to challenge everyone in the next week, find 30 minutes, sit down and write a list of things, a list of areas that you believe you could gain value from your network. This is a little bit of what’s-in-it-for-me type of mentality, but none of those things should be short-term in nature. None of those should be anything about landing a deal, converting any opportunity now. They should all be bigger picture.
I ask you to do that as a call to action, because I think, when you write that down and you really think, here are some of the benefits of having a network over the long run, it does help you focus more now. It helps you realize what you’re putting the effort in now for and where that may benefit you in the long run.
Again, find 30 minutes, write down, what are some of the benefits of having a network, some of the resources that you’ll be able to derive from that? We’ve talked about a good handful here, but everyone can come up with their own unique thought around that.
Corrie, for our listeners, how do they get in touch with you?
[00:35:05] CM: Find me on LinkedIn. That’d be a great way to connect. Obviously it’s about networking is what we talked about, so let’s start there.
[00:35:11] AD: Awesome. We’ll make sure we’ll have your LinkedIn linked in the show notes below. Appreciate you being on here today. Enjoyed the conversation, and I look forward to talking to you again soon.
[00:35:20] CM: Thanks, Alex. I appreciate the time today.
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