Today Gilt Groupe has a few hundred employees, but back in September 2007, it was just the founding team working out of a dingy office on West 19th Street.
(Before we go any further, we should mention that Gilt Groupe’s CEO Kevin Ryan is also Business Insider’s chairman.)
Being well-connected was a huge part of the company’s success.
During her first few days at the office — and only two months before launching — co-founder Alexandra Wilkis Wilson was trying to sync her Blackberry, but the tech team “managed to wipe out 9,500 names, most of the people she had planned to start contacting, either to join the site or to help reach out to certain brands.” (Ultimately tech salvaged most of them.)
We recently asked Alexandra how she built such a huge network, and she told us that she has simply always been proactive about it: “During business school [at HBS] I was always trying to figure out what my next career phase was, and I worked very hard to carve that path” by reaching out to people. (She also initially introduced co-founder Alexis Maybank to Kevin months before she even joined the company.)
In the book, the co-founders talk about how building a network is just as important as raising capital, and offer these networking tips:
1. Remember faces and names. Always get contact information after you meet someone, and follow up right away. Bring them to an event.
2. Make introductions for others. And do it without thinking they’ll pay you back.
3. Be a doer, and befriend other doers. In other words, hang out with people who are interesting and ambitious.
4. honour important days (and send gifts). And go to every wedding you can. People remember those things forever.
5. Make time for friends and acquaintances. If you don’t, you risk shrinking your network.
6. Don’t ask for favours all the time. Save your requests for when you really need help.
7. Build your own personal board of directors. “Remember, you’ll only do as well as those around you want you to do.”
8. Be authentic, with high integrity. “Don’t screw anyone over in your personal or your professional life because word will spread like wildfire, and it will always come back to haunt you.”
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