5 questions for Tom Glocer, one of New York’s master networkers

The Brief
In June, Crain’s New York Business published its list of the 200 Most Connected New Yorkers, powered by RelSci. Quantity of connections was important, of course, but the algorithm considered more than who had the biggest Rolodex. Ultimately, the list’s headliners boasted strong relationships with a variety of major influencers whom they could leverage for maximum results. 

We caught up with Tom Glocer, founder of Angelic Ventures, former CEO of Thomson Reuters and lucky number 13 on the list, to get to the bottom of how someone rises to the top of the uber-networkers. 

Editor’s note: Glocer was an early investor in Relationship Science.


What was your reaction to being included on the Crain’s “Most Connected New Yorkers” list?

Honestly, I wasn’t completely surprised to be on a list of 200 people. I was surprised to be at number 13. The ex-mayor is in the 60s, and I consider him to be a considerably more connected person than I am. 

Editor’s Note: Michael Bloomberg is #64 

What’s your definition of “well connected”? Over the course of your career, has that definition changed for you?

Half of it comes down to: Am I one phone call away from reaching whomever somebody wants to reach? That is, do I know that person directly or a way to get to him or her in one hop? But at least for me, the other really important factor is—and it may be why I have a reasonably wide and intense network—I don’t bother people. I’ll activate my network only for something important and if I am pretty sure that both the person who’s asking and the recipient will say afterward, “I’m glad Tom introduced us.”

“I’ll activate my network only for something important and if I am pretty sure that both will say afterward, “I’m glad Tom introduced us.”      Tweet this story

It’s interesting you noted that part of how you define your network is your ability to do things for people. Do you find that the more you use your connections to help others, the wider your network gets, or has growing your network been fueled more by your reaching out for help, advice or referrals? 

I have a little bit of a utopian view of these things, which is: the people who are incredibly focused on this art called networking, and spend all their lives networking, and do good deeds for Person A because they think that someday Person A will do something to directly benefit them, end up with ineffective networks. I’ve always thought the right thing to do is to do favors for people simply because they ask and it’s the right thing to do. Don’t keep score. In the end, I’ve found I am often repaid in mysterious, third-hand ways, and to a far greater extent than if I’d tried to calculate the quid pro quo of doing X for Person A.

Don’t keep score. In the end, I’ve found I am often repaid in mysterious, third-hand ways, and to a far greater extent than if I’d tried to calculate the quid pro quo of doing X for Person A.       Tweet this story

Do you have any specific stories about leveraging your network, either to do something for someone else or to achieve some sort of personal success?

I’ve been able to help a whole bunch of people get jobs—either by providing the initial introduction or by being a connected reference. Because I know a lot of people, I get a lot of calls directly, and that’s a good thing. But I make a point of only helping people I think are good and qualified. And if an acquaintance calls to ask about someone I don’t think he should hire, I say so. 

You were an early investor in Relationship Science. What about the platform separated it from the plethora of other “networking” platforms?

When [RelSci founder] Neal Goldman came over to my house without even a prototype and started describing what he wanted to build, it was an idea that I had always thought could be relevant to a variety of people: those doing development work for universities and charities, head hunters, investment bankers, private wealth managers, PR folks, communications folks and on and on. 

Today, I love the 360° Alerts—of course, I’m biased since I spent the good part of my professional career in and around a news organization. Every day I get a filtered feed of news about the people in my network, and that’s really useful because these are the people I tend to run into and see. And I may or may not have come across the news item even through all the other news sources I read. I think it’s a very powerful feature. 


Interview has been edited and condensed. It was originally conducted by Deanna Cioppa, a freelance writer who has written for AARP, ESPN The Magazine, Fodor’s and RelSci.

RelSci helps create competitive advantage for organizations through a crucial yet vastly underutilized asset: relationship capital with influential decision makers.

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