We’re honored to have had the chance to speak with “the woman with the titanium digital Rolodex.” Super Connector, Judy Robinett, has more than 30 years of experience as an entrepreneur and corporate leader. Author of How to Be a Power Connector: The 5+50+100 Rule for Turning Your Business Network into Profits, Judy has been profiled in Fast Company, Forbes, VentureBeat, Huffington Post, and Bloomberg Businessweek.
Most recently, Judy has created a curriculum on how entrepreneurs can best raise capital for their start-ups.
Below are highlights from our conversation where Judy talked about how she became a power connector and how you can learn to be one as well. Click here to listen to the entire conversation.
Network = Net Worth
A highly robust network is critical because nothing happens without people. In her book, Judy explains that you can only maintain 150 people at a time. It’s useless to try to track and organize thousands of business cards. It’s better to be strategic with your contacts. Cultivate high-quality relationships with people who have access to resources that can help you. Your core 150 people can be fluid — they don’t have to remain the same 150 people. Your network will also naturally change as your life changes. For example, the goals that you have as a 20 year old will evolve as you get married, have kids, and get gray hair.
So how do you maximize the value of this core group of people? Take a look at your network. Identify 25-50 key people. Talk to them. Meet with them. Tell them where you’re at. Tell them your goals and what you need.
Judy has 2 golden questions: #1 – What other ideas do you have? #2 – Do you know anyone that could help me? Many times, we do not ask people who we are closest with if they know anyone who can help us achieve our business goals. Judy states that most people simply don’t use their already existing network of contacts. But she also knows that most of what an individual needs is already in his/her network.
Are You a Martha Stewart or an Oprah Winfrey?
How do you filter out the quality connections in your network of hundreds or thousands of people? Judy used to say that she wanted people with a good heart, a good head, and a good gut. She later boiled it down to choosing between Martha Stewart and Oprah Winfrey. Both women are billionaires who are great at what they do. But who would she choose to work with?
She would choose Oprah. She feels she would connect best with Oprah. For Judy, she looks for people who are friendly, warm, and generous and who will offer help either through making introductions or mentoring.
Think about when you meet a stranger. What makes you feel comfortable with this stranger? Is this person a good human being? Are they generous? Do you have confidence they could, and will, help you?
You also need to find the right events to attend. You may have fun at an event, meeting up with friends and having a few drinks, but is the event moving your business and/or your career forward? Judy recommends joining a curated group, such as the Association for Corporate Growth.
How Does a Solid Network Translate into Fundraising?
Judy shared her core formula: Quality Relationships + Strategy = Specific Goal. If the goal is venture fundraising, find out where the funders hang out: Incubators. Pitch events. Angel groups. Micro Venture Capital firms. Find them on Twitter, their blogs, LinkedIn. It’s important to be clear on what you need and who will be a good fit to provide funds. Be focused. You may think you want $5m from a VC, but keep in mind that if you’re funded by a VC, you’re stuck for 10 years. They’ll want 10-30 times of their investment back. 90% of high potential startups are funded by angel investors. Judy advises to start telling people about your fundraising efforts. Ask them who you should talk to. You’ll quickly identify the strategic opportunities.
Finding the Power Connectors and Demonstrating Your Value
When you walk into a conference and there’s a swarm of people around one person, that one person is usually a power connector. Power connectors like Judy love making things happen for people. That’s part of the reason they’ve become power connectors — because they’re good at making things happen. When Judy is speaking to someone, she’s automatically jumping into the Rolodex in her head to see what introductions she can make. Power connectors can intuitively determine what strategy is needed to achieve a goal. They’re generous, and they want to help people.
Judy detailed a story about how she got the president of MGM Television and Digital Group, Mark Burnett, to endorse her book. She didn’t know Mark but she found someone in her network who did. She asked them about what he needed. It turned out that he and his wife had just invested $18m in a film and were looking for ways to market it on a shoestring budget. She did some research and came up with a plan and asked for a 15-minute phone call to explain it. She ended up with a dinner invitation from Mark himself. She presented her plan and was immediately given an endorsement of her book in return.
The bottom line is you must figure out how to help people. Be kind, gracious, and a good listener. Think about how you can add value immediately. Maybe you can make an introduction. Or perhaps you can share a report on a trend. Share information that can help. Keep practicing that and it will become a habit. This habitual behavior will set you apart and make you an invaluable contact to know.
Angel Investor Versus Crowdfunding
We had a question from one of our listeners asking how to know whether to seek an angel investor or to use a crowdfunding site like Kickstarter.
Judy explains that the answer depends on where you’re at with your business. As soon as you have your idea, you need to develop your funding strategy all the way to the exit strategy. Start with friends and family and get some traction. Then you need to find your customer.
Connector or Networker?
We had one more question from another listener who asked about how you’re able to discover what your connections need and how you can ensure you are a connector rather than a networker.
Judy says it’s as simple as asking the question, “How can I help you?” People are often stunned and grateful, and then they’ll tell you.
There’s a value in helping others. Try to do good for the sake of doing good. Sometimes you won’t get it back from that same individual you helped, but rest assured, it will come back to you. Being a good person and having an open heart and mind will make you a person people want to help. If you help someone, and they don’t want to help you back, then keep on trudging and don’t look back — you don’t need that person in your network.
Click here to listen to our entire conversation and benefit even more from Judy Robinett’s wisdom and anecdotes.
Connect with Judy…
Email her at: judyrobinett.com
Follow her on Twitter @judyrobinett
Connect with her on Linkedin
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