6 Pieces of Advice on Networking From Venture Capitalist Wayne Kimmel
The Huffington Post by David Ongchoco
Named as one of the Top Innovators in the Philadelphia region, Wayne Kimmel, a managing partner at SeventySix Capital, recently gave a talk about startups, venture capital and entrepreneurship here at Penn. He started out by talking about different anecdotes and experiences of his working in the startup and VC world then quickly transitioned into giving us aspiring student entrepreneurs some practical advice with a focus on networking and building relationships.
1. To be real successful, you got to go out there and get off your couch, talk to other people, and learn what’s out there.
The best way to come up with good ideas is to go out there and talk to people, learn more about what bothers them, and analyze their pain points. You can’t be just sitting behind your screen the whole day, and expect to build a startup. You have to go out there and learn about what your consumers want, what big businesses want.
Networking is all about learning from each other; heck, life is all about learning from each other. Kimmel also talked about the importance of always telling your story in a precise but impactful way to every person you meet.
2. You have to work for it, fight for it; no one will ever hand things to you on a silver platter.
“You have to work for it. You have to fight for it. No one will give you anything for it. The only people who will love you are your family. The only people who will really care about you are your parents. You have to fight like crazy to make it happen. Why would someone just let you in because they’re having a party? You have to be special. You have to figure out your way and get yourself there.”
Kimmel talked about how he would find ways to network with investors and the big guys. After realizing that a lot of investors and top businessmen usually stay in five star hotels like the Marriott and Four Seasons, he started showing up in the breakfast restaurants of these hotels at 7am, handing out his business card to whoever would walk in. Now that is what you call hustle.
Part of this being special and figuring out a way to get in contact with these people is always having some business cards. Kimmel talked about the importance of having your business card always ready. It’s about getting your foot on the door and helping people remember you.
3. If you want to meet somebody, find a way!
Want to meet Elon Musk? Want to meet Taylor Swift? Want to meet Steve Ballmer? Find a way.
Yes, a few years back, when Kimmel was still starting out, he wanted to meet former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. What did he do? He looked for the next speaking engagement and conference Steve Ballmer was attending, and headed to the hotel where it was being held. Calculating what time and day Ballmer would arrive, Kimmel waited in the lobby at 7am. And who would’ve known, Ballmer walks in carrying his luggage, and Kimmel heads over to quickly introduce himself and give his business card. A few weeks later and Ballmer gets Kimmel connected to the Microsoft executive he needed help from—AMAZING.
Sounds so simple right? Well, fundamentally, if you think about it, we’re all human. These guys we look up to and aspire to become, they wear clothes just like us; they watch movies just like us. And they were once on the other side of the table asking for help as well. Nobody started from the top. We all started from the bottom, so don’t be afraid to reach out to the people at the top. They’re human. As long as you show them why they should help you, and how they can help you, there’s a high chance they’ll help you.
4. Everyday is a new chance to help somebody.
Kimmel pointed out how everyday is a chance to help others. Maybe you can use 5 minutes to say something, give feedback and ask how you can help your friend.
He then talked about how everyday was his favorite day. Why? “My favorite day of the year is everyday because every single day, somebody has a birthday so I can send them an email, text or message on Facebook and say happy birthday. I’m making them feel good, and it’s making me feel good as well. I’m able to check in with people every single year. You get to refresh your contacts once a year, once a day.”
Life is all about building relationships. And building relationships is about doing the little things.
5. Don’t forget to say “please” and “thank you”.
Yes, this is Kimmel’s top secret.
“It’s my top secret and number one piece of advice. It’s pretty simple but it comes down to simply saying please and thank you. You can set yourself apart in the business world by leaps and bounds by saying please and thank you. If you do that, it does set you apart.”
6. We live once, give it a shot; do something a little crazy!
This was the perfect way to end a talk to aspiring student entrepreneurs. Seriously, we only live once, stop talking about what ifs and just do it. You never know that one shot may just make all the difference.
What are you waiting for? Go to a hotel breakfast area and start pitching your idea to the investors down there!