There are few things that are as respected in business as experience. Take top executive Chris Fralic—a networker among networkers. A successful venture capitalist who helped TED launch its TEDTalks video series, Fralic is acknowledged by his peers as being one of the super-connectors who maintains a multitude of meaningful relationships he has built over his 20-plus year career. His expertise in being connected was propelled by advice he received early in his career from fellow venture capitalist Kevin Compton: “The best way to be highly influential is to be human to everyone you meet.”
A recent article in First Round Today revealed Fralic’s strategy for being insanely well connected, including making the connections and keeping them thriving. In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we look at Fralic’s seven rules for making memorable connections.
1. Convey Genuine Appreciation. In observing that people are more likely to like you if they are liked by you, actively project both warmth and high energy. Convey that you are genuinely happy to see them. Think about what they know that you don’t, be interested in learning from them and be appreciative of their expertise.
2. Listen With Intent. Don’t be distracted during the conversation and make the connection feel heard. Demonstrate you’ve heard what the other person has said and encourage them to continue by offering physical and verbal cues that you are listening with short enthusiastic responses like “totally” or “I can see that.”
3. Use Humility Markers. Don’t build yourself up or explain how helpful you can be. As Fralic puts it, “Your focus should be on building bridges between your experience and theirs so there are points of recognition, especially if you can organically work in shared struggles or challenges.” Meeting in person or acknowledging your own fallibility in conversation (“I may be wrong, but …”) shows humility.
4. Offer Unvarnished Honesty. It’s human nature to avoid honesty if you think it might tarnish the relationship or make others dislike you. Fralic advises to differentiate yourself from others by being completely honest, as long as you root the honesty in a way that is useful for the other person.
5. Blue-Sky Brainstorm. Even if you can’t offer advice or help the other person in your initial conversation, you may be able to help them brainstorm to better understand what they are dealing with or to change how they think about it. By doing so, you’ve offered them something they didn’t expect.
6. Close With Optimism For The Next Meeting. It’s a small world, so assume you are going to run into this connection again. Even if the first meeting doesn’t yield positive results, leave every meeting with an opening for a conversation you might have in the future (“This doesn’t look like a fit for us, but if anything changes with your X or you have other ideas, let me know.”).
7. Don’t Fake It ‘Til You Make it. Overstating your credentials, ideas or results just to get a meeting or develop a relationship rarely results in a long-term relationship. Meaningful relationships take years to cultivate and are based on honesty and diligent preparation.
In tomorrow’s Promotional Consultant Today we will continue this two-part series with Fralic’s do’s and don’ts for keeping your connections thriving.
Source: Chris Fralic is a partner at First Round Capital and has more than 25 years of technology industry experience with significant internet business development roles since 1996, including VP of business development at both Del.icio.us (acquired by Yahoo!) and Half.com (acquired by eBay).