By Theo Anderson
Success in the emerging global economy requires the ability to adapt, and your power to do so depends on the vitality of your network, says Ellen Levy, managing director of Silicon Valley Connect.
“There’s a capability that very rarely gets mentioned or recognized, but is becoming more and more powerful, and more and more a strategic advantage for companies that leverage it in our technology-enabled world,” said Levy, who invests in and advises a portfolio of more than 50 startups. “And that’s the power of your network.”
Levy shared her insights on networking during the opening session of the inaugural Kellogg on Growth Forum, held Nov. 10 at the Kellogg School of Management.
Building a strong network
Discussions of networks usually focus on how to use them, Levy said, but “you have to build a quality network before you can take advantage of it,” and it must be continually nurtured to be useful. “If you only look at ways of extracting value from it, and not what you can contribute to it, then no matter what value you’ve built into it in the first place, it will deteriorate over time.”
One strategy Levy uses to nurture her own network is to set aside a few minutes each week to write a note — often “just to say I’m thinking about you” — to a few people that she hasn’t recently been in touch with. She typically writes that there is no need to respond, adding: “It’s a gift when someone reaches out and says, ‘By the way, I don’t expect to hear back from you. I just want you to know that I care.’”