I hate social networking. Always have. And yet, having co-founded a home networking company, I am viscerally aware of how to leverage networking technology for effect. Over the course of the past five years I’ve become just as aware that social networking is as critical to the success of my company as the networking technology we build. But it’s not the social networking of yore.
When I was growing up, social networking meant a schmarmy activity where strangers met, acted like they’re fascinated in one another, and then used social goodwill to push an agenda. To a straight-shooting introvert, this concept is repugnant on two levels: 1) the forced interaction with strangers & 2) the manipulation of them.
Given this aversion, it is funny that I:
A) Wrote a book on the subject
B) Attribute my success to it
As MySpace, FaceBook, YouTube and Twitter demonstrate (as well as their predecessors: USENET, The Well, and AOL), the concept of social networking has evolved with online commingling. Though it wasn’t the new interaction possibilities enabled by these sites that led me to embrace social networking, though my use of them has forced me to confront my lifelong denial:
Hello, my name is Drew Banks and I am a social networker.
I like people. Always have. I go to a party, I meet people. I eat out to a restaurant, I meet people. I’m in an elevator, I meet people. Currently, I have 1758 in my Outlook contacts, 517 Facebook friends, and 415 LinkedIn connections. Certainly, many are casual connections, but there are many with whom I communicate on the regular basis. These friends and family constitute the tapestry of my life. But it is as an entrepreneur that I’ve truly learned to appreciate the power of social networking. Surprisingly, I’ve found that my candor, which had made me abhor the social networking of my youth, is actually quite beneficial. It appears most people like honesty. In fact, I believe that people today crave authenticity, but let’s save this tangent for a future blog (note to self: future blog on authenticity).
As far as how my social network has enabled my entrepreneurial success, below are some bullet points:
- My co-founders and I were social acquaintances
- 90% of Pie Digital‘s (i.e. my company) seed investment was from friends and family
- 9 out of 10 of our advisers are, or were introduced by, friends/former colleagues
- 1 or our advisers introduced us to our lead VC, Foundry Group
- Foundry Group has introduced us to all sorts of folk
Over the past decade, I’ve learned to leverage my social network. I’ve learned that this takes structured and vigilant attention to networking possibilities within your current social circles as well as openness to and followthru with the random, unexpected introduction. I’ve learned to tap into this social network for everything from $ to expertise. Finally, I ‘ve learned that when tapping, most people respond better to honest inquiry rather than manipulative schmoozing.
4. The Network Effect
5. Been There, Done That (serial entrepreneurialism)
6. The New New Thing
7. Emergence & Maslow
8. The Analogy of the Watch (moving parts)
9. A Clean Cap Table
10. Perseverance or Blinders
6. Creating you Brand
7. The First Review
8. The Network Effect
9. Amazon Ranking
10. The Book Tour