Is Bigger Better? Myths About Building Your Network.

September 8th, 2015

Be honest: Do you ever brag about the size of your network?

I’m well aware that many social networks “rank” you more highly as the number of your connections increase. Certainly there are a lot of advisors telling you they have the “get rich quick” answer for building your business by increasing your email list or Facebook fans or Twitter followers.

Of course, when it comes to marketing your business or project, you want to have a lot of people you can reach through email or social media. But when you hit a certain number of contacts, social media connections, or entries in your digital Rolodex, you may only vaguely remember these people. In fact, you might never have had any real interaction with them at all.

If that’s true, can you really say that you have relationships with them?

When it comes to building a powerful network, I believe that quality trumps quantity every time. I define quality not by status or wealth, but by the level of connection you experience with the people in your network. Power connecting means developing genuine relationships—and science shows us there’s an upper limit on the number of relationships we can maintain at any given time.

In 1993 anthropologist Robin Dunbar posited that the maximum number of people with whom a human could develop and maintain stable social relationships is around 150. Further studies of the gaming world and other online communities confirm that groups break apart when they exceed that size. That’s why I believe a truly powerful, connected network consists of around 150 people organized in three groups: your 5 closest relationships, the 50 people most important to your current life and business, and no more than 100 individuals who are key to your long-term goals.

Building a powerful network is about creating high-quality connections with a smaller number of individuals who are truly important to you and your personal and professional goals. In high-quality relationships, people know you, like you, and trust you because you have communicated with them consistently and added appropriate value frequently. They take your calls, answer your emails, and help you when you ask—and you will do the same for them.

There was once an advertising slogan that proclaimed, “Small is beautiful.” When it comes to your network, I believe that size doesn’t matter. A small, targeted network can be far more powerful than a big, loose one—when it’s composed of 150 (or fewer) high-quality relationships.

How Strategic Are Your Current Relationships?

February 24th, 2015

Through the years I’ve brought a lot of promising young companies (primarily tech start-ups) to the attention of angel investors and VC funds, and one of the first questions I ask entrepreneurs is, “What’s your business plan?” Before they risk investing in a company, funders want to see a strong, concise, detailed description of exactly how and when the business will turn a profit.

My question to you is, do you have a business relationship plan—a strategy for developing the connections that will help you succeed?

The right network can represent significant value for you and your business, because the people in it can provide connections, opportunities, funding, and support. But to build a strong network will require an investment of your time and effort. That’s why I believe you must have a plan for finding and building the relationships that can mean the most for your success, and a system for deepening those relationships over time.

Developing a valuable network starts by assessing your current one. Here are a few questions to get you thinking.

  1. How many of your current relationships would you consider strategic—meaning, you know exactly the value they can provide you, and that you can provide them? What is your network’s strategic quotient (SQ)?
  2. How many different professions, industries, and communities are represented in your network? Do you have connections with people who are “higher up” than you as well as those who are just starting out?
  3. How much do you know about the people in your network? Do you know what’s important to them in their lives and businesses?
  4. How much do you know about the networks of the people in your network? How connected are they?
  5. In how many relationships are you actively providing value at least once a week, month, or quarter?

As you know, a business plan doesn’t just assess the current state of the business. Its most important aspects outline a strategic plan for building the business in the years ahead. I believe that you have to do the same with your business relationships: you need to think strategically about the relationships you need to develop to reach your goals. Ask yourself these questions.

  1. How many people do you feel you need to have in your network? (Remember, the goal is quality, not quantity.)
  2. Which ecosystems (professions, industries, locations, etc.) need to be represented?
  3. Do you have a list of high-value connections with whom you would like to develop strategic relationships? Why would these people be of value to you? If they were in your network, how would you add value to them consistently so they would be eager to help when you need it?
  4. Do you have a system for managing your strategic relationships so that you can stay connected with these people easily and frequently?

A healthy network of strong connections is one of your most valuable personal and professional assets. That’s why you should assess your network’s current health while you create a solid plan for its future growth and development.


Are You in the Right Room? An Important Key to Networking Success

February 15th, 2015

I’ve been doing a lot more speeches this year, and occasionally I’ve woken up from what I consider a version of the “speaker’s nightmare.” Not the “standing in front of the audience in your underwear” or the “go out to speak and realize you’ve forgotten your notes and have no idea what you’re supposed to say” dream. In this version, I walk out with confidence, turn to the audience—and realize I’m in the wrong room.

Unfortunately, a lot of people experience the same problem in their networking efforts. They want to reach individuals that can be helpful to them and their businesses; they’d like to get to know leaders in their professions and communities. But they don’t have access to where those people congregate. In fact, they don’t know where to start looking in the first place. So they end up going to networking events where they shake hands with a lot of other businesspeople just like themselves—in other words, they’re in the wrong room for their goals.

I’m all for networking with colleagues and peers—but in order to reach the movers and shakers in your industry or community, you have to understand how ecosystems work. I define an ecosystem as a web of professional and personal connections, linked by common interests, and sharing knowledge and access unavailable to outsiders. Every town, city, and state has its own ecosystem, as does every profession and industry. The key players in each ecosystem know each other, meet with each other, and do deals with each other. The places where those key players meet are the “rooms” you want to get yourself into.

Getting yourself into the right room is a four-step process. First, you must identify the ecosystems that are important for your particular business and community. (Make sure you include politics, finance, and media, as these are key ecosystems for everyone.) Second, identify the key players in those ecosystems. Some of these people may be obvious—the presidents of the local banks and largest corporations, for instance—but others might not be as visible—many angel investors, for example, keep a low profile unless you know someone who can introduce you to them. Often you will hear the names of the low-profile people only after you’ve met some of the other key players in that particular ecosystem.

Third, start researching where the key players appear. Do they attend certain community functions? Business meetings or conferences? What are their hobbies or personal interests? (It can be easier to meet someone at a social sporting event.) What charities do they contribute to, and what causes do they support?

The fourth and final step is to get yourself into the rooms where key players will be. When I was working for the Department of Aging in Idaho, I volunteered for the finance committee of the city’s United Way campaign. This put me in the same room with C-level financial executives from some of the biggest companies in the area. It also put me in constant touch with the administrative assistant for the governor of Idaho. Volunteering is often a great way to get yourself into the same room with the movers and shakers of a community or other ecosystem.

Some of the “right rooms” that are rising in popularity in business today are “curated” events—invitation-only (or contribution-only) small gatherings where people of similar interests and backgrounds come together. (Alley to the Valley is such a curated event for women in the tech industry of Silicon Valley.) Are there curated events for your profession or industry, or in your town or community? Better yet, could you hold such a curated event?

Not long ago master networker Jay Allen told me a story of his wanting to get to know ten of the most prominent CIOs in his particular field. He cold-called one of them and said, “Would you like to have lunch with nine other top CIOs in the area so you could discuss common challenges and solutions?” The CIO agreed—and from there the businessman called other CIOs and said, “Would you like to join the CIO of Such-and-Such Company at lunch to discuss best practices? No selling, just information.” In no time ten CIOs had agreed to come. Jay then served as the host of the lunch—and got to know ten top executives on a first-name basis. He created the right room to increase his business.

When you understand ecosystems and how they work, it’s much easier to figure out where the right rooms are to gain access to the people you need to reach. And being in the right room makes it much easier to create the right connections and build the right relationships to help you succeed.


Develop Your Networking Skills Now for Future Success

February 3rd, 2015

You may already be aware of the power of a powerful network. People with the right connections hear about internships and job opportunities before anyone else does. Even in the toughest job market, they’re the ones who land the best positions in the most prestigious firms. The right connections can matter more than background, location, age, appearance, gender, or social status. People who have a wealth of quality connections can access the kinds of opportunities and resources that lead to greater success. The right connections are worth their weight in gold.

As an advisor to venture capitalists and tech start-ups, I’ve been developing strategic business connections for over 30 years. I’m known as the woman with the “titanium digital Rolodex”—but I started as a painfully shy social worker from a tiny town in Idaho. I had to learn how to build strong relationships with people in all walks of life.

Today I teach business professionals how to find, develop, and nurture the kind of “power connections” that will help them succeed—but these same skills are even more vital at the beginning of your career. As you enter your profession or career, you must be intelligent about building good, solid connections with others right from the start. In this article I want to share what I call Power Connecting 101: The Four Key Beliefs of Successful Connectors and the Five Pitfalls to Avoid. (This information is drawn from my book, How to Be a Power Connector.)

The Four Key Beliefs of Successful Connectors

#1: All business relationships are relationships first. As InfusionSoft CEO Clate Mask says, “I’m not interested in developing ‘business relationships’; I want to create relationships on a deeper level.” Relationships are about building connections with others who feel you have their best interests at heart, and vice versa. You must enter into every business relationship seeking to get to know the other person and, if possible, help them out.

#2: Relationships are about giving and receiving value.In all relationships—with your local mailman, your favorite professor, your little sister, your mother, and even with a stranger you interact with in a grocery store—you are giving and receiving value constantly. Power connecting is based upon consistently adding value to other people, and receiving their assistance in return.

#3: Relationships must be authentic on both sides. People must know you, like you, and trust you before they will do business with you, and for that to happen, you must be authentic, honest, and trustworthy. The people you bring into your network must have the same qualities. Your network is your most prized possession; make sure it’s composed of only the best individuals. Be on the lookout for bad actors and unreliable people. Measure the value of your contacts not by their net worth but by whether they have a good head, heart, and gut.

#4: To be successful, your network must be wide, deep, and robust. It’s sometimes tempting to seek out only people who are like us, or who are in the same profession, for our network. But the true power of business relationships often comes from connecting people from diverse and divergent spheres with each other. Successful people have relationships in finance, media, politics, and their communities, as well as in their industries and families. This gives them access to information and opportunities they would never have otherwise.

With these four beliefs, you can start to build a strong, powerful network even before you enter the workforce. However, you also must conscientiously avoid five pitfalls that will diminish your relationship-building efforts.

The Five Pitfalls of the Inefficient Connector

#1: Networking in the wrong places for what they need. Networking will help only if you are searching for the people in the right places. Your favorite nightclub, coffee shop or gym may not be locations where the people you need to meet are hanging out. On the other hand, the alumni association or an upcoming tech conference might give you access to the person who will give you your next job or important contact.

#2: Networking at the wrong level for their goals. Instead of connecting with individuals and organizations that can provide the high-level support, direction, and connections they need, most people spend too much time with those at their own level of knowledge and skill, or lower. Your friends are great for support, but you need to reach “up and out” to make contact with people who can guide, mentor, and open doors for you.

#3: Not assessing the relative value of their connections. College students and recent grads have the constant urge to connect with others via social media or through numerous social events. But the truth is, there are only so many hours in the day and so much time in our lives to effectively maintain relationships. (Social science research states that we can effectively keep track of only around 150 people at a time.) You have to appreciate the value of every connection while determining exactly what assistance that connection brings to you and what assistance you can give in return.

#4: Not using a system to optimize their networking efforts. Handing out thousands of business cards or resumes probably won’t get you the job of your dreams. Meeting lots of useful people and then not having the courage or taking the time to follow up professionally won’t accelerate your plans either. You must systematically connect and then build relationships over time. I have developed a 5+50+100 system that ensures strong and vital relationships with the 150 people that will make the biggest difference in your life and career.

#5: Failing to create high-value, long-term connections. The key isn’t the number of contacts you make: it’s the number of contacts that turn into long-lasting connections. Relationships can’t be built overnight. You must commit to helping others consistently, adding value appropriately, and connecting them with other people who may help them out as well. The strongest relationships are based upon consistent added value.

The right network doesn’t have to be inherited. You don’t have to attend a prestigious university, or have your family endow a new library addition. Your uncle or family friends doesn’t have to run a Fortune 500 company for you to be able to find and build strong connections with people who could help you with your life and business goals. All it takes is a few, simple skills, learned well and applied consistently, to create the kind of power connections that will accelerate your success.



Power Connecting Strategies for Women: Using Our Strengths to Build Dynamic, Effective Networks

January 14th, 2015

A few years ago when founder of 30SecondMobile Elisa All went to a meeting of the Chicago Founders Circle (an invitation-only, peer-to-peer networking group for CEOs of emerging growth companies in the Chicago area), she was disappointed to see that there were only two other women in the room. Unfortunately, this is still a common experience: women who attend industry functions or local Chamber meetings often find themselves in the minority. And in fields such as technology, venture capital, and high-level funding—my areas of expertise—women business owners are even fewer.

As someone who has studied strategic business relationship creation for three decades, I believe that women need to develop greater expertise in creating what my friend, Kay Koplovitz (founder of USA Network), calls “human capital networks”—people with whom we can be very open and who will give us the best advice while we do the same for them. We must become power connectors: individuals who add value by putting the best people in touch with the best resources, with the goal of creating greater success for all concerned.

During my thirty-plus years in business, I have noticed that male and female power connectors go about building their networks in different ways. Here are four suggestions to help women develop the strong, connected relationships that will accelerate our businesses.

#1. We must be strategic in developing our networks.

Women tend to reach out to broad coalitions and develop extensive connections with a lot of people. “We’re wired to form alliances, to cooperate and collaborate, and to support each other,” says CEO of the All Access Group Kelli Richards. Unfortunately, we also can find ourselves (1) swamped by the number of relationships we are trying to maintain, or (2) failing to develop new relationships because we know how much effort it takes to stay connected.

To be as strategic in developing business relationships as we are in utilizing any other asset, we must target the relationships that will provide maximum benefit to our businesses, and then follow a system to keep those relationships strong and vital. I utilize a 5+50+100 model that identifies my 5 closest relationships, the 50 people key to my one-year goals, and the 100 people with whom I need to stay in touch based on my long-term goals. With this system, I can keep current relationships strong while I find and build new relationships as needed.

#2: We must actively reach into different ecosystems at different levels.

I define an ecosystem as a web of professional and personal connections, linked by common interests, and sharing knowledge and access unavailable to outsiders. In addition to our personal networks, we must seek out members from the key ecosystems of government/politics, finance, media, industry, and community. Tapping into these ecosystems will help us gain access to the funding, relationships, and opportunities we need to grow our businesses.

We also must gain access to different levels of these ecosystems. While most women are good at developing “horizontal” (peer-to-peer) networks, we are less effective in reaching out to potential mentors and sponsors, or choosing others to mentor and sponsor ourselves. We need to actively network “up,” seeking out women (and men) to be our mentors and sponsors in the executive committees, boardrooms, and wider business communities. We also must reach “down,” to help and guide up-and-coming women in our fields.

#3: We must give freely—but also ask for what we need.

I have found that many men tend to see helping others as quid pro quo: “I help you so that you will help me when the time comes.” On the other hand, many women provide help in order to develop and maintain relationships, rather than as a means of “banking” favors for future gain. The problem arises when the time comes to call upon these relationships to advance our own aims. “I think women find it easier to develop strategic relationships but harder to use them,” comments film producer Elizabeth Dell. “We do less well in making ‘the ask’ in a relationship.”

One technique I have found helpful in asking for help is the “two to three first” approach: I make sure that I have added value to someone consistently (at least two to three times) before I ever make a request. Power connecting is based upon adding sufficient value, of the kind that the other person wants, with the goal of deepening the relationship first. The stronger the relationship, the easier it will be for you to ask for help—and the easier for the other person to say yes.

#4: We must help each other.

As Gloria Vanderbilt once said, “I’ve always believed that one woman’s success can only help another woman’s success.”I believe that the best power connecting strategy any woman can develop is to actively support the efforts of other women. There are two sets of words we need to use constantly: “How can I help?” and “Use my name.” With those two phrases, women can build the kind of strategic relationships that will make us—and our businesses—stronger.

Power Connecting: Networking Skills for the Sales Professional

December 21st, 2014

A few years ago I attended a private conference in New York where Esther Dyson, a prominent angel investor and philanthropist, was speaking. I had admired Esther for a long time and wanted to meet her. At at the end of the conference a long line of people lined up to talk with her. I knew that Esther specialized in energy investing, so when I got to the front of the line, I said hello, mentioned two energy deals that I knew about, told her I admired her passion for investing, gave her my card, and said, “It’s a pleasure to speak with you.” A few short sentences and I was done. That night I had a LinkedIn invitation from Esther with a request to stay in touch.

How many times have you wanted to create an instant connection with someone and set the stage for further contact? These skills, which are the basis of successful networking, are critical for any sales professional. After all, your contacts and connections are your most valuable assets. It’s people who have the answers, deals, money, access, power, and influence you need to get what you want. They buy what your business sells—or your whole business—and they do the favors that make your path to success easier. Like a “power grid,” relationships help get things done faster and more effectively.

For the past 25 years I have been studying and creating high-value, strategic relationships that give businesspeople instant access to the inner circles of influence. What I l have learned has helped me go from being a shy social worker in Idaho to my current career–putting venture capital funds and angel investors together with tech start-up companies. I’m called “the woman with the titanium digital Rolodex,” and my connections include governors, billionaires, notable authors, and some of the biggest figures in business today. What has made the difference? I don’t network: I power connect.

In power connecting, you create a small network (about 150) of high-quality relationships. You make your network wide, deep, and robust (i.e., it includes the right resources, involves the right people, and cultivates the right action steps). Finally, you follow value-adding strategies to develop your network relationships, creating greater success for everyone. Power connecting creates high-value relationships and maximizes your network’s effectiveness.


The 5+50+100 Power Network

You may try to stay in touch with hundreds of clients, customers, and prospects—but can you really say that you have strong relationships with them? Social science shows us that the maximum number of relationships we can maintain at one time is around 150. Further studies of the gaming world and other online communities confirm that groups break apart when they exceed that size. That’s why I believe a truly powerful, connected network consists of around 150 people, organized in three concentric circles:


  • Your 5 closest relationships
  • The 50 people most important to your current life and business
  • No more than 100 individuals who are key to your long-term goals.


This doesn’t mean that you ignore any connections that are outside of your core 150. But you do make sure to keep in touch specifically with these 150 people on a regular basis: your top 5 daily, your top 50 weekly, and your top 100 monthly. While the 150 people in your network will evolve and change through time, keeping this number as your target will help you avoid overwhelm while you develop great relationships with the people you select.

Imagine distilling the lists of people in your contact software down to a core 150. How much more sane would your life and business feel?

While it may seem counterintuitive to increase the power of your network by limiting the number of people in it, by focusing on and deepening a smaller number of important relationships, power connectors can create greater value for the people in their networks. And remember: each of those 155 people has his or her own network, too. The stronger your relationships, the more likely your 155 people will happily give you access to the people they know.


The Three Traits of a Power Connector Network

With an upper limit of 150 people in your network, selecting the right 150 people is key. That’s why power connectors are cordial to everyone while seeking to create a network that will make the biggest difference to their business. Three characteristics set a power connector’s network apart. First, it is wide. It reaches beyond a particular industry or community to include individuals from eight key ecosystems—webs of professional and personal connections, linked by common interests, shared knowledge, and access to opportunities unavailable to outsiders. In addition to the personal ecosystems of friends and family, interests and hobbies, and your career or profession, other key ecosystems include your industry, community, politics, finance, and media. How wide is your current circle of connections, and how many ecosystems does it contain? Networking succeeds best when you’re looking for help in all the right places.

Second, a power connector’s network is deep, with multiple contacts in each ecosystem at different levels of experience and expertise. Say you wished to persuade a local company to use you as a supplier. If you knew five or more of the company’s C-level executives from your community connections, do you think it would be easier to arrange a meeting with the company president? The real secret to a truly deep network, however, is to connect with key players in an ecosystem. The key players know each other, meet with each other, and do deals with each other. The places where those key players meet are the “rooms” you want to reach, and one of the best ways to do so is in places that have nothing to do with business. For example, early in my career I worked for the Idaho Office of Aging, but I volunteered for the finance committee of the local United Way. There I met several top executives from the biggest companies in the area—people I would never have had access to otherwise. Charities, community functions, industry conferences, and social settings are great places to get into the same rooms with key players.

Third, a power connector’s network is robust—the people in it are happy to help you and to help others with whom you put them in touch. How quickly do the people in your network respond when you put out a request? If you ask them to reach out to someone (qualifying that person first, of course—you always make sure a referral is appropriate), will they do so simply because you asked? A robust network is created when you add consistent, appropriate value to its members. Value comes in many forms—information, key contacts, favors, and introductions—and is determined by the needs of the situation and the individual. Providing consistent value creates the strong, long-term connections you want in your network.


Key Power Connector Strategies to Build the Right Relationships

A power connector’s network is only as good as the quality of the people in it, and the strength of the relationships between those individuals. That’s why power connectors approach building relationships in different ways. Here are four important strategies to help you build your own 5+50+100 network.


1. Seek out the right people in the right ecosystems. You can work a room until the end of time, but what good will it do if you’re in the wrong room? You’ve got to determine the proper ecosystem for your needs and then determine the best people to help you reach your goals. Start by examining the connections of your current network. You may be surprised to discover that your college roommate knows the head buyer for that department store chain you’ve been trying to get your products into, or the parent of another child on your son’s Little League team is the CFO of the biggest manufacturer in town. Whenever I need to reach anyone, the first thing I do is to put the request out to my network: “Who do you know in (whatever ecosystem I want to reach)?” I always get an answer—but inevitably the contact comes from someone who I never would expect to have access to that industry or community.

2. Connect in the right way. The best way to build strong connection is to be authentically yourself and authentically interested in others. If I am going to meet new people in a professional arena, I often will do research beforehand about the individuals who will be there. I want to get to know what’s important to this person, what makes him or her excited in either their personal or professional lives. Before I ever say anything about myself, I try to ask questions of the people I meet. If you are genuinely curious about others, they will feel your interest.

When it is your turn to speak, please avoid a thirty-second “elevator speech” about your business! Instead, I suggest you develop a share that tells who you are, what you’re about, and what you’re interested in. Talk about your family, hobbies, civic or community involvements—anything that shows you have a personal life. Only after that should you talk about your business, making sure that the description reflects energy and passion.

Once you’ve created the initial connection, do whatever you can to quickly add value. As you listen to someone, keep these questions in mind: “How can I help?” and “Can any of my contacts be of assistance?” Remember that your goal is simply to establish enough of a connection to secure the next meeting, and then move on. Try asking yourself, “What’s the one thing I can say that will lay a foundation for a future relationship?” And always end your conversation with what I call the three Golden Questions: “How can I help you?” “What ideas do you have for me?” and “Who else do you know who I should talk to?” With these three questions you set the stage for future contact and the potential for a deeper relationship.

3. Assess the value of a connection and reconnect immediately. Power connectors appreciate the value of every connection while determining exactly what assistance that person brings and what assistance he or she can give in return. You must assess your connections to see if they are a good fit for your 5+50+100 circles based on (a) whether their values match yours and (b) can you both provide mutual meaningful value, now and/or in the future. You want your power circles to be composed of people who have a good head, a good heart, and who are a good bet. Once you have evaluated your connections, reach out to them within 24 hours and provide some sort of value immediately. I often will send articles, offers of help, or simply a “nice to meet you, let’s stay in touch” email. By following up quickly you demonstrate your own responsiveness and your willingness to create a further relationship.

4. Continue to build value and triangulate for greater success. Before people are willing to help with the big things, they must know you, like you, and trust you. You accomplish this through regular, value-added contact over time. Be proactive; be the first to offer to help and then follow through. Giving first is rare and builds trust in a world where talk is cheap and people mistrustful.

One of the quickest ways to deepen a relationship is to identify and solve a problem by sharing relevant information, a key introduction, a piece of strategy, a referral, mentor, or other support. Do the little things that others don’t, and give value multiple times without expecting a return.

Some businesspeople view their relationships as assets to be hoarded and kept away from others. But I have found that the real power of strategic relationship building comes from creating interrelationships between the individuals you know and with their extended networks. I call this triangulating. Some of my greatest successes as a power connector came from being the “matchmaker” between connections. Not long ago, venture capital firm CEO Claudia Iannazzo asked me to help a friend of hers find a speaker for a big entrepreneurs’ conference in New York. I put her in touch with Dr. Annette McClellan, who had just sold her company for several million dollars and was looking for a new opportunity. By referring Annette, Claudia came to the rescue of a good friend and professional contact; Annette received great exposure to entrepreneurs and companies in which she might invest; and I was able to put two friends in touch as well as adding to my own connections in the ecosystem of professional speaking.

Even if you are incredibly efficient with your networking, you have only so much time and so many resources in a given day. But if you can connect your connections to one another, you’re leveraging your time and energy by using the resources of those in your network to add value.


When it comes to building a powerful network, I believe that quality—defined as the level of connection you create with your communication and the ways you add value—trumps quantity every time. In high-quality relationships, people know you, like you, and trust you because you have communicated with them consistently and added appropriate value frequently. They take your calls, answer your emails, and help you when you ask—and you will do the same for them. With a wide, deep, and robust network of quality connections that are eager to help and support you and each other, you will find your path to success easier and far more enjoyable.



Power Connecting (Networking) for Introverts_2

July 31st, 2014

2. Become fascinated by other people.

Here’s the great news for us introverts: most other people love to talk about themselves, and all we need to do is to give them the chance to do so—simply by saying hello, asking a good open-ended question, and then listening. When you take the focus off of you and really pay attention to the other person, you’ll be surprised at how quickly your nerves disappear.


3. Practice in non-threatening contexts.

While you’re walking, rather than staring at your phone or the ground, practice looking at the people walking by. Say hello to the person next to you in line or on the airplane. Ask the barista or the store clerk how they are doing, and watch them light up when someone actually treats him or her like a human being. Then take this a step further and say hello to people whom you might find intimidating—the boss, the president of the bank, a political official. You don’t have to initiate a conversation, just get used to keeping your focus on others.

Watch for the next installment of this blog…

Power Connecting (Networking) for Introverts

July 23rd, 2014

Recently Susan Roane, author of How to Work a Room, contacted me when she heard about my forthcoming book on how to be a power connector. We had a great conversation in which she told me that the number one question people ask is, “I’m shy—how do I network?”

Most psychologists agree that anywhere from 30 to 50 percent of people in the U.S. can be classified as introverts. I too used to be part of that group: growing up I was a tall, awkward girl who did her best to shrink into the background in every social situation. But there’s something interesting about many of us introverts: because we don’t talk a lot, we are often very observant. We watch what people do and how they interact.

That’s exactly what I did all through high school and college, and in my first job. I watched people and learned about who they were, what they wanted, and how others successfully “broke the ice” with them in social situations. And then I tried a few things that helped me get past my initial reluctance (okay, fear) so that I could reach out to the people I wanted to meet.

Today when someone tells me they can’t network because they’re shy or introverted, I offer four suggestions that can help turn reluctant introverts into successful power connectors.

1. Realize that every important person in your life was once a stranger.

“Stranger danger” is a fallacy. After all, your best friend, first crush, spouse, mentor, co-worker, or teammate were strangers when you first met them. Whenever you think about networking, imagine that the next person you meet might turn out to be one of your closest friends.


The State of Equity Based Crowdfunding

February 22nd, 2013

Leaders of the venture capital and Crowdfunding community, as well as leading small business advocacy groups, met with law makers, regulators and policy officials to provide an in-depth review of preparations that the Crowdfunding and investment community have taken to prepare for the legalization of Equity-based Crowdfunding.

A Letter from the Crowdfund Investing Team

October 17th, 2012

The latest from the guys who brought the framework for Crowdfund Investing to Washington, DC and lobbied for the change to the US Securities laws.

A Letter From The Crowdfund Investing Team

October 8, 2012

Dear Crowdfunding Followers,Since attending the White House on April 5th when President Obama signed our Crowdfund Investing bill into law we have been working nonstop, traveling all over the world, and watching this crazy idea of ours, ‘Web 3.0, where social networking meets seed financing to solve the funding voidfor our nation’s job-creators (aka Main Street small businesses and startups),’ go global.Here’s what we have been up to:

Crowdfund Capital Advisors

We have incorporated Crowdfund Capital Advisors to ensure that the implementation of the JOBS Act goes smoothly by working with Crowdfunding industry professionals and government agencies.  We advise businesses and individuals globally on Crowdfunding, Crowdfund Investing and the JOBS Act – as jobs are not just an American issue.  Our current clients include small and large investors/ organizations looking to understand and invest in this new asset class, and governments looking to implement our Crowdfund Investing framework so they can spur entrepreneurship, innovation, and jobs.  As well we advise soon-to-be Crowdfund Investing platforms and professionals looking to launch and grow profitable crowdfunding businesses within the regulatory framework.  (Meanwhile, Zak is focusing his time and attention on his own entrepreneurial endeavors, a chain of gourmet olive oil shops).

  • We are excited to have Leverage-PR handling our marketing, PR and business development leads.  Consider Leverage-PR the Crowdfunding PR specialists!

  • We are thrilled to count Judy Robinett as our first Partner.  Judy brings unparalleled experience to our team as a former public CEO, power Angel investor and networking genius.  And we are equally thrilled to have  Davis Jones as our lead analyst working with us on our Crowdfund Industry thought-leadership work, including our first White Paper (see below).

  • Our travels include meetings with entrepreneurs, angel investors, financial advisors, funds, local chambers, startup community leaders, journalists, banking experts, lobbyists, development banks and government officials at home (Washington, Chicago & the San Francisco Bay Area) and abroad (most recently Mexico, Italy and Columbia).  From our experience, the world is looking to both the USA and us for how they can implement a similar framework.

Crowdfund Industry Advocates

According to Forbes contributing author, Chance Barnett of Crowdfunder, we are two of the Top Ten Most Influential People in Crowdfunding and we’ve become the Crowdfund Investing industry advocates.

  • Crowdfunding Professionals Association (CfPA) – We are founding board members of this 600+ member global trade association focused on educating entrepreneurs & investors, representing intermediaries, and providing a networking environment.

  • Join us at the CfPA 1st Annual Meeting and  Crowdfunding Bootcamp Oct 9-11 in Las Vegas.  We are humbled to be receiving the first Crowdfunding Visionary Award. (Thank you Ruth Hedges of  Funding Roadmap).

  • We filmed Crowdfunding 101 in NYC with the amazing help and support of General Assembly and Ryan Feit of Seedinvest.

  • Crowdfund Intermediary Regulatory Advocates – We are founding board members of this advocacy group led by an amazing team (Candace Klein – Somolend, Vince Molinari – Gate Impact, DJ Paul –Crowdfunder and Freeman White – Launcht). CFIRA is working with the SEC & FINRA during the 270-day rule making period we are in while we wait for Crowdfund Investing to go live in 2013.

  • iCanCrowdfund – We are advisors to the Legalize Crowdfunding movement in Canada.  Also the inaugural global partner to CfPA.

  • European Crowdfunding Network – We are advisors to the Legalize Crowdfunding movement in Europe.

We are authors!

Prior to the bill signing, John Wiley & Sons publishers contacted us about authoring Crowdfund Investing for Dummies.  Thanks to two weeks in seclusion, we’ve finished writing the 360-page book!  The abridged e-book will be available November 27th and makes a great holiday gift!  You can pre-order it here!  We are also contributing to another book on Crowdfund Investing.

We have been asked to contribute to a good deal of publications including TechCrunch and VentureBeat. Here are some articles you may enjoy:

Our first White Paper How Crowdfund Investing Helps Solve Three Pressing Socioeconomic Challenges is geared toward Governments & NGO’s globally that want to learn how Crowdfund Investing & The JOBS Act can boost economies and promote peace.

Here is where you can see us over the next few weeks:

Partners & Advisors:

As the industry rapidly prepares to go live, we are pleased to partner with these companies that we believe will be winning players in the future of crowdfunding:

  • Crowdfunder – An equity & debt crowdfunding platform based in Los Angeles, CA

  • SeedInvest – An equity crowdfunding platform based in New York City

  • Crowdnetic – Consider them the ‘ of crowdfunding’

  • Gate Impact – Consider them the ‘Crowdfunding broker/dealer’

  • IRAvest – A crowdfunding portal tied into the self directed IRA pipeline

If it seems like a lot, it is.  Yes, there’s probably a television show in there somewhere!  Yes, there’s probably some series of education that comes out of the book and YES there are some larger things that you’ll just have to stay tuned to our new website to find out!

Thank you for your help and support throughout this process, without your support this could not have been done.  If you want to stay updated on our latest news please sign up for our monthly briefing papers here.

If you recall we said, “2012 will be the year we legalize crowdfunding.”  Well, “2013 is going to be the year of the Crowdfunded Entrepreneur & Crowdfunding Investor!”

What about YOU?

If you have questions about Crowdfund Investing and/or the JOBS Act, look no further than the guys who wrote the framework to legalize Crowdfunding.  Email either or

All our best,

Sherwood & Jason

ps – If you are looking for a job, we will be hiring.  Analysts and consultants to the front of the line.  Send your CV and tell us what excites you about Crowdfund Investing and what you would bring to the table.