Networking as a Woman (A Man’s Perspective)
By Larry Chiang (CEO, Duck9 & Stanford University EIR)
I see patterns. Pattern recognition is a critical skill set for VCs to master. The pattern I see is that networking as a tall Asian engineer with Supermodel looks is uber similar to how a female founder should network. We both can’t get to and meet contacts if there is a slew of people just monopolizing our time (because they want to bang us).
You see, I say the things that others won’t say (or write). I risk this because in my opinion, there are some insights I have that others do not. We as women need to play with the idea of…
-1- Networking in Rooms We Aren’t Invited Into
We as women need to learn this advanced technique of networking. Wedging into rooms we are not invited into is a time-honored tradition. Back-rooms don’t hand out golden invites. Men crash.
Mastering this is tough. I blogged about it under my guacamole recipe series for entrepreneurship at CNN.
Mastering the crash is difficult, but trying to do this is critical.
Remember if we can’t crash a room, how can we build a new company that disrupts an industry. How can we “crash” a new company or organization? Trying is critical.
-2- Women Need to PRACTICE Bossing Around Powerful Men.
I calculate that in order for more of us to be CEO, we need to boss around men. Powerful men.
Boys learn this at an early age. They learn this via sports. As captain of every baseball team I have been on, I bossed around my coach (1-6% of the time) and learned how to simultaneously be alpha, beta and gamma male.
The mentor mentee dynamic has a push pull dynamic. By ebbing between alpha, beta and gamma (and delta) we take moments to be momentary alphas especially when we have some certain expertise.
Let’s practice bossing around a powerful man. Text me @6502838008 something to do and I’ll do it.
-3- Learn From my Dog
Look happy to see someone and sniff out bullshit quickly.
I got mentored from a Shih Tzu. His name was Baxter and he helped me to give presentations, moderate panels and even crash board of director meetings. Anyway, he greeted people really well and he listened really well.
-4- Learn How to Work a Room
I wrote a book report at GigaOm about “How to Work a Room” by Susan Roane.
-5- Goal: One Best Friend Forever
Quality outflanks quantity all day long.
Seek to get just one person that you will remember at each event you go to.
For example, I will try to meet a person at an event and promote whatever they are promoting. Sure, I’d like more but I want to meet and remember one person and have that person remember me.
-6- Find and Locate your Balls
- Everyone is shy.
- Practice meet-n-greet.
- Promotion, practice.
I will be your enforcer. Think of me as your virtual party crashing companion. I want to transition you from no balls to some balls.
-7- Promote a Friend’s Startup
As a female founder, you probably are perfecting a product. Don’t.
Get out of the ready, ready, aim, ready, aim, aim, ready pattern. Yes, women do this. Yes, supermodel men do this. Yes, minorities do this.
Instead, go promote a friends company or similar project. You can even promote a competitor.
For example, I’m CEO of Duck9. Prosper.com used to be a competitor back when we did peer-to-peer lending. I promoted ProsperAss. It was stripper to stripper lending.
Promoting a competitor exercises your promotion muscles. Promoting a competitor gives you market insights and let’s you pivot before you even launch or found a company.
Question: Larry Chiang, aren’t I breaking copyright? Or is this legal?
Answer: Hey, sign up for Yelp and do a review! I’m promoting Yelp.
I didn’t break any laws or infringe. If you wanna be uber safe, get them to email you permission. Or locate your balls and just sign 2-4 people up for your competitor on your laptop as you stand over them.
Question: Larry, what if people get confused about my confounding something I didn’t?
Answer: People do think that if you promote it, it’s yours. Get over the “imposter syndrome” and promote it.
The truth is that it’s yours only if you legally own it.
-8- Separate, Extend and Escape Someone Who Wants to Bang Us
We are at a work networking event to grow our network. I hate it when people look to want to hook up with us. I guess it’s a hazard and symptom of being hot.
When I am getting hot boxed by someone — I separate, extend and escape. I don’t wait for someone to save me. I don’t wait for someone to pull the ripcord for me. I escape.
Good phrases to use:
- “I’m headed over there. Nice to meet”. I point and then walk.
- “Excuse me. I have to take this text message”.
- “Hold that thought. I have to wrangle someone into this event. He is lost and won’t ask directions”.
- “I’m peeing”.
- “My bladder is about to explode”. Turn, walk and leave.
- “Look, you have a fabulous mind and I like your ideas. We can meet up or talk or do both, but know that we will never bang” is my personal fave.
INSIGHT: if you’re young, people are intimidated by your youth and recent attendance of college
If you’re not young or new to a field, read my next post :-)
Editor’s note: Got a question or answer for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below.
About the guest blogger: Larry Chiang is CEO of Duck9. He scandalously uses his company’s credit card product to lead generate CS major founders by ‘selling’ a credit card that actually pays CS major undergrads called the “Larry Chiang Duck9ReverseAnnualFee.com” product. His fund is called “Larry Chiang Stanford G51 Fund of Stanford Founders”. He teaches ENGR 145 at Stanford as an EIR. Follow him on Twitter at @LarryChiang.