Network to Enhance Your Potential
While networking may come naturally to some, it can be challenging to make it authentic for others. Networking, defined as the process of building professional relationships, is a skill that is absolutely fundamental to the success of entrepreneurs for many reasons. This lesson draws from our conversations with Angela Lee, the Chief Innovation Officer of Columbia Business School and the founder of 37 Angels, a community of women angel investors based out of New York City, and from Bunny Ellerin, the Director of the Healthcare and Pharmaceutical Management Program at Columbia Business School and founder of New York Health Business Leaders.
Expand Your Horizons: For those who are interested in healthcare entrepreneurship and innovation, it may be hard to pin down how you may engage in the ecosystem. Meeting new people, through a variety of platforms, can serve as a helpful way to find your place in healthcare or if you are considering a career shift – position you for an even better opportunity.
Source Ideas: Through having conversations with brilliant minds, you may source problems that need solving. Keep an open mind and actively listen to what’s being said – whether during online interactions or at in-person conferences. Do your due diligence and consider how you might be able to take the stated problem and offer a compelling solution.
Build Your Team: A one-man show in healthcare is utterly impossible. It is crucial to bring in expertise from different, much-needed perspectives as you embark on your entrepreneurial journey. Bring in product developers, marketers, legal experts, clinicians, and end-users – to drive your mission forward. Look to inter-disciplinary events, like hackathons, alumni groups, and conferences – to connect with these folks in person and leverage Linkedin for the majority of introductions and network expansion.
Fill in Knowledge Gaps: As Dr. Nadine Hachach-Haram, plastic surgeon and founder of Proximie, shared, “Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Ask for ten minutes to pick someone’s brain.” Networking can be a useful way to fill in the gaps of knowledge needed to ensure your start-up’s success. Considering a new application of your technology? Approaching insurers to make a case for reimbursement? You will need to reach out to others.
HOW TO NETWORK?
Attend events: Conferences, webinars, clubhouse meet-ups. Introduce yourself or follow-up afterward via e-mail – and have a purpose for contact.
Giving credit when it’s due: It is important to make others feel valued and appreciated, especially when building professional relationships. Thus – if you are genuinely impressed by a colleague’s comment or contribution, make it known. Complement and give credit when it’s due.
Taking a genuine interest: Let’s face it – people like talking about themselves. An easy conversation starter or ice breaker is to ask about another person’s work. Ask about their path, what drives them, what excites them. You never know where the conversation will go.
Maintaining consistent contact: One touchpoint is not enough, especially if you are looking to build a long-term relationship with someone. Mark your calendar and keep yourself accountable for maintaining these relationships.
Leverage your first degree network: As Christine Yang (Director at Redesign Health, former Associate at New Enterprise Associates (NEA), and Co-Founder of Ride Health) relayed, you can further expand your business relationships by asking for introductions from your first degree network if appropriate.
Give back: As Andrea Ippolito, founder of SimpliFed, shared – the healthcare ecosystem thrives based on what we give back to it. Thus, you might look to the enormous resources and opportunities that the ecosystem provides – but consider how you might contribute and give back to those who had similar aspirations.
DOs AND DON'Ts OF NETWORKING
DON'T consider networking as a transaction and immediately start with your ask
DO take time to know the person first and learn about their experiences!
DON'T only reach out when you need something
DO make an effort to nurture genuine connections and you'll be surprised by how much you can learn!
DON'T assume you have to be extroverted
DO express a genuine interest and you'll see how open people are to helping regardless of how extroverted or introverted you are!
DON'T limit your network to your current roles
DO reach out - you never know who you'll be able to talk to unless you try!
HOW TO NETWORK VIRTUALLY?
In the era of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have shifted social interactions to the virtual setting. Networking, formerly defined by the “wining and dining” and the “coffee chats,” has forever changed. We look to social media and engagement platforms to engage with people from all over the world. While this may seem daunting, here are some tips on how to foster engagement and connection as you build your venture:
Ask Questions: Plant your stake as an attendee through asking a compelling question. This can serve as a springboard to promote discussion at the event, or even help start a conversation with the moderator or panelists in the future.
Engage with Content: When you can / if it is appropriate, try leaving a comment on a post or thread. This could loop you into a thoughtful discussion and help build a relationship with VIPs in a given healthcare sector.
Schedule Zoom Chats: With the rising WFH mentality, people are easier to reach and probably, more willing to connect. Try reaching out after an event to schedule a quick chat to discuss your venture. Amidst this increased accessibility, it is all the most important to have an ask or purpose for reaching out.
Join Virtual Networks: Slack and LinkedIn groups aggregate so many brilliant minds in all things healthcare, business, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, investing. MD++, Biotech Yuppies, Theia Community, and Young Physician Communicators are just a few that we recommend.
Consider Accelerators and Incubators: These can serve as great opportunities to build relationships within the market that you are trying to engage in – not to mention, funding opportunities.
Networking can fuel your impact on healthcare. For further inspiration, Angela Lee recommends two books, Give and Take by Adam Grant and Multipliers by Liz Wiseman, to help you “amplify the awesome” of your network and succeed as a healthcare innovator.