1. What are the strengths and weaknesses of Roizen’s network at the end of the case? Heidi Roizen has invested time and effort in developing and sustaining relationships/networks in the computer industry, especially in the Silicon Valley area, throughout her professional career. As she moves into her venture capitalist role, her networking efforts have the following strengths
- Includes executives including CEO’s, thereby giving her the experience of interacting with these business leaders.
Since she has established relationships with many and her credibility is proven, which is an important criterion for business leaders; this is a critical skill in her new role.
- Since she is not only well known in the internet industry but is also well respected, her joining Softbank provides positive feedback about the new group making it an attractive opportunity for many. Her current role is different from her prior jobs in that it requires making go/no-go funding decisions about start-up companies rather than establish a network of contact to help develop the business she was involved in.
This fundamental difference in her role will put strains on her vast network as well as herself. Namely
- Reject projects from her acquaintances. Even though she has been making concerted efforts to reach out to those affected by these adverse decisions, there is a good possibility that some people will let these decision impact their personal/professional relationships with her. Since, she is very values her relationships a lot I imagine such issues will negatively affect her at a personal level.
This has the potential of having a negative impact on her credibility in the industry
- Trying to manage her network will put constraints on her professional and/or personal life. As she mentions that she spends two hours per day sending out rejection notes, I believe for her to be able to sustain this she will need to put in extra hours at work or compromise the quality of work.
- Create internal conflict for herself by deviating from her philosophy of helping others when it is a mutually beneficial situation for both, since in her current role she is feeling pressured to help people by referring them to the companies she is tied with.
2. What specific steps did Roizen take to develop her network? To maintain it? Heidi Roizen is a very well know business leader in the computer industry sector, especially in Silicon Valley. During the course of her career she has built a vast network of connections. The basic reason for her vast network can be attributed to her innate extrovert and high energy personality coupled with a desire to interact and help people with high caliber and engaging personalities. In addition, she was also required to cultivate relationships to support the software company, T/Maker, which she co-founded in the early phase of her career.
The primary objective was to market the company’s product. Her strategies towards developing relationships included
- Follow the ‘what can I offer’ approach. In her interactions with people she planned carefully on how to help their projects/needs. During her time at Tandem, she had opportunity to work with the company’s CEO’s and through her approach she built relationships with the CEO. Her relationship benefited her professionally as he recommended her for the Stanford MBA program.
- Identify organizations and people that will help her initiatives and engage them through meaningful contributions in their activities.
To promote her company, T/Maker, Heidi networked with the press, the software entrepreneur’s forums and the software publishers association. Through her contributions she has established sustainable relationships, as is evident by the glowing reviews paid to her by business leaders such as Brian Gentile of eALITY Inc.
- Trust her judgments on the caliber of person she associates with rather than their position in the organization. The paper gives instances where she built relationships with ‘smart’, ‘interesting’ and ‘good quality’ people who later become senior executives in their companies.
- Relationships are built on a combination of professional-social interactions. She is known to have regular parties at her house. She used these events not only to build her relationships but also provide networking opportunities to her guests. Heidi gives a lot of importance to her relationships and is consequently very conscientious in sustaining them.
To maintain her network, she believes in
- Quality of the interaction rather than quantity. She leverages her relationships after much thought, for e. g., higher up in the organization her contact is, fewer times she would contact that individual for favor.
- Focus on been consistent in the relationship. She emphasizes being consistent in her actions while dealing with friends.
- Ensuring there is reciprocity in the relationship i. e. , there is a balance between the times she is asking for help versus helping that particular individual out.
3. How does your own network compare with Roizen’s? To what extent are the differences due to the political structure in the networks assist? To what extent are the differences due to the personal preferences and style?
As I compare my social/professional network to Heidi Roizen’s, one of the biggest differences is the number of people we know-my LinkedIn contact list is at 100+ while I guess Heidi’s would be 500+ category. After going through this article I have realized the significance networking can have on one’s profession and moving forward will like to The commonalities between our relationships include
- Quality of interactions rather than quantity. I have some very good friends whom I only meet once/twice per year yet the relationship has been sustained.
- Relationships have to be on an even footing. I make concerted efforts to ensure reciprocity is maintained from my end. There have been occasions in the past where I have discontinued relationships when I felt the other individual was always asking for help. Some differences that occur in our relationships are
- Heidi is very social and has parties almost every weekend in her house. This is not the case at my place. There is a very strong emphasis in her life on networking, which is not the case for me.
- She seems to invest time in relationships with the intent of leveraging them for future benefit either for herself or other acquaintances. This becomes clear at the end of the case during her time Softbank she referred people to organizations that will help her business interest. In my case, relationships can sometimes be used to exchange ideas or just have fun without the intent of obtaining any benefit.
- I am generally not looking to bring people together for mutual benefit.
- She makes an effort of meeting new people through attending trade shows, participating in conference etc.
In my role, I have opportunity to attend technical conferences but my primary intent there is to acquire knowledge rather than meet new people. In my opinion one of the biggest reasons for the differences is our personality type. She is an out-going, high energy person with a passion for meeting new people. This means that interacting and meeting new people provides her with fuel to get recharged in life. I am an introvert who enjoys meeting people but feel drained after these experiences and need alone/close family time to recharge.
In addition, differences between Heidi and me can also be attributed to our professions. Since she has primarily worked as entrepreneurs/business developer, my role is to develop manufacturing processes. I believe there is a fundamental difference between these roles, her job needs interacting with a large number of people whereas in my case knowledge about the processes is more important.
4. What suggestions would you give Roizen for adjusting and maintaining her network as she became more involved as an internet venture capitalist? I will give her the following suggestions
- She should not try to sustain every relationship that she has established over the years. She should create of priority list of people and maintain relationships with those who meet her basic requirement of being ‘smart’ and ‘good quality’ as well are value added in her new role. She has to juggle three critical roles – family, work and network management. If she focuses too much on trying to maintain her network, there is a high probability that one or both of the others will suffer.
- She should focus on creating some relationships with people who are not in the same industry sector as her. This will be –in sync with her outgoing personality and fulfill her ‘need’ to interact with people while not creating expectations/pressures in her profession. In the paper, it is obvious that many of the proposals, including meeting requests, being submitted are from with her network. Since most of these are being rejected and even though she is being very professional in rejecting these, it should be expected that some of these rejections are not well received. The negative reactions emanating from these may create stress for her and hamper her professional and personal life.
- She should also delegate the rejection letters to her subordinates as she seems to be spending too much time on them and this is taking away from her work time that may be detrimental for her career.
- Since, her current role is different from her past roles of being an entrepreneur/business developer there is limited need for keeping a very large network.