The lean startup? We’re more interested in the lean network

By Deanna Cioppa
The Brief
You don’t have time to cast a wide net anymore. To achieve your goals (fundraising or otherwise) you need to isolate your targets.

We recently came across this interesting post from executive advisor Stephen Meade about why isolation can sometimes be a good thing for entrepreneurs. And, yes, it appears counterproductive for a platform that’s all about connection to tout the benefits of going it alone, but it’s all in the meaning of the word, and the way Meade defines it, it makes a lot of sense:

See, the idea of Isolation is to determine exactly what it is you do, who you sell to, who you want to meet, etc.

As Meade points out, isolation is really about narrowing your focus. His examples are centered on entrepreneurship and VC fundraising, but the concept applies to all areas of business development regardless of your industry or business size. No one has the time to cast a wide net anymore. Building professional relationships is about being lean and efficient. A bloated Rolodex of useless contacts doesn’t do anything besides take up space on your desk (and by desk we mean smartphone).

A highly curated network of diverse contacts, from different industries and managerial strata, with different backgrounds, who are relational hubs in their own right, will open up opportunities for partnership, intelligence mining and new business. More importantly, a leaner network made up of higher quality people, those who are rich in their own relationship capital, requires less work on your part to maintain.

Of course, figuring out who to target for connection takes some work. You must be willing to research potential connections ahead of meeting them. Who do you have in common with them? What are their interests outside their own industry? Which nonprofit boards do they sit on? Sure, it’s legwork, but it will save you a host of dead ends and wasted time in the long run.

The Takeaway:
When it comes to building a successful network, one that can deliver partnerships, clients and insight, it’s best to stay focused and lean. Isolate your targets and research them ahead of time. Don’t just amass. Curate.

Deanna Cioppa is a freelance writer who has written for AARP, ESPN The Magazine and Fodor’s. She is a frequent contributor to this blog.

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

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