Jordon Fliegel is the founder of CoachUp, the nation’s leading private coaching company. He is also Founder and General Manager of Bridge Boys LLC, an early-stage seed investment fund in Boston. Before CoachUp/Bridge Boys he was a professional basketball player, and holds a BA from Bowdoin College and an MBA from Tel Aviv University in Israel. Follow him @jfleeg.
Build a Platform to Take You to the Next Level
Focus on building a great company. If you succeed at doing that, you will have built a platform to take your networking capability to another level. There needs to be a legitimate reason for a well-regarded entrepreneur, investor or partner to meet with you, and you need to have a clear goal for what you really want to get out of those relationships. Without a successful company behind you, your value proposition in networking won’t be strong, and you won’t get much value out of it.
Focus on Relationship Building
Its so hard to pick only one situation where a casual networking connection has had a big business impact, as CoachUp was built off of a series of successful networking connections — from colleagues to investors, advisors, endorsers and other partners. Any successful company is really, at its core, a group of successful people coming together with a shared purpose and energy. Personal relationships developed through networking is at the core of all of that. If I had to pick one example from my experience in building CoachUp, it would be meeting my co-founders Arian Radmand and Gabe Durazo.
You have to really care about your friends and about their success to succeed yourself. Your business partners, colleagues, investors and advisors: these are really important people in your life. You are only as strong as your relationships, and the quality of the people you are connected with. So caring about their success and adding value to their lives is the most important thing you can do.
Be Picky When It Comes to Conferences
I actually don’t believe in going to events or conferences, with a few exceptions. The “unConference” in Boston, for instance, is a great place to meet relevant people in the Boston tech community because it was founded on the principle that conferences are generally a waste of time; precisely because it’s hard to meet people. The unConference is a conference dedicated to not being like other conferences — you have direct, pre-arranged meetings based on your needs/interests, and small breakout sessions around topics you care about. But in general, figure out who you really want to meet and why, and find a way to get them outside of events.
Schedule, Schedule, Schedule
I use Asana to schedule my to-do list and Google Calendar to schedule my day and work cross-functionally. I rely on Evernote to keep (and share) notes from my meetings, and of course, I turn to my Macbook Pro and iPhone 6 to access everything on the go.
Make a Good Impression
I make sure to send out a thank you/happy holiday note to all my most important contacts each year. It doesn’t need to be overly complex, but it’s important to individualize it for each person. If your business relationship with someone is worth preserving over the long term, its a great practice to remind them that you feel that way at least once a year. And regardless of what happens, it’s important to never burn bridges!