Networking Is More Than Lots of Names, Says Heidi Roizen | Summary and Q&A

November 16, 2009
Stanford Graduate School of Business
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Networking Is More Than Lots of Names, Says Heidi Roizen

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Heidi Roizen, a successful entrepreneur, corporate executive, venture capitalist, and board member, shares her insights on networking, career development, and personal success. She discusses the importance of leveraging personal networks in different careers, the challenges of entering new industries, the role of networking in corporate governance, and the impact of gender bias on professional perceptions. She also offers advice on building a strong network, finding mentors, managing e-mail, and making the most out of an MBA program.

Questions & Answers

Q: How did networking play a role in Heidi's personal success and development?

Networking has played a crucial role in Heidi's career, especially in her entrepreneurial endeavor, Skinny Songs. Despite not having connections in the music industry, she leveraged her network to find like-minded individuals who could help execute her idea. Her credibility in the Silicon Valley helped her make connections and translate her ideas to other industries. However, she also discovered that credibility and power do not always translate into different worlds, and she had to start from scratch in some cases.

Q: How did Heidi approach networking in her corporate governance role?

In her corporate governance role, Heidi recognized the importance of networking to find board director positions. She discovered that more than 75% of board director positions in major companies are filled without the use of a headhunter. Instead, word-of-mouth and networking are essential in securing these positions. Heidi proactively reached out to her network to let them know she was interested in board positions, and it led to her getting connected to a venture capitalist who recommended her for a board position.

Q: How did Heidi manage her network and connections as a venture capitalist and board member?

Heidi emphasizes the need for consistency and performance in managing her network and connections. Being consistent in her interactions and being known as someone who follows through on commitments has helped build her reputation. She believes in delivering what she says she will and maintaining clear priorities. Heidi also emphasizes the importance of taking care of oneself and making it a priority, as it has a direct impact on performance and success.

Q: How did Heidi approach networking as a shy individual?

Heidi acknowledges that networking does not come easily to everyone, and even though she is a talkative person, she understands that it can be challenging for shy individuals. She suggests finding other ways to build relationships, such as joining non-profits, volunteering, or working on projects together. Heidi emphasizes the importance of being genuine and focusing on connecting with others in the context of accomplishing something rather than just collecting business cards.

Q: How did Heidi approach mentorship in her career?

Heidi found mentors through her work, by attaching herself to smart individuals with whom she was doing business. She believes in building relationships with people she admires and can learn from. Additionally, she recommends getting involved in trade associations within the industry. Serving on trade association boards helped her make valuable connections and gain industry-wide recognition beyond the size of her own company.

Q: What is Heidi's advice for MBA students to make the most out of their time at the GSB?

Heidi advises MBA students to take advantage of the opportunities and connections at their school. She emphasizes the value of building relationships with fellow students, alumni, and industry professionals. She recommends taking classes that sound interesting and getting involved in clubs, groups, or conferences related to specific fields or interests. Heidi also mentions the importance of networking and learning from others, as GPA and grades may not be as significant as the experiences and connections students build during their time at school.

Q: How does Heidi manage her e-mail given the volume she receives?

Heidi is an active e-mail user and always has her inbox on. She tries to respond promptly, process her e-mails, and empty her inbox regularly. Heidi acknowledges that managing e-mail can be addictive and recommends setting boundaries and not constantly checking it. She emphasizes the importance of saying no when necessary and being efficient in handling e-mails.

Q: How does Heidi define proficiency and performance in maintaining a good network?

Heidi believes that proficiency and performance are key elements in maintaining a good network. Proficiency refers to being consistent in interactions and having a clear set of rules and priorities that others can rely on. Performance, on the other hand, involves delivering on commitments and being known as someone who follows through. Heidi believes that these qualities build a strong reputation and help maintain connections over time.

Q: How does Heidi manage her personal and business life when it comes to networking?

While Heidi believes that it is great to mix personal and business relationships, she acknowledges the importance of setting boundaries. She chooses her business connections based on qualities she looks for in friends, such as ethical behavior and interesting personalities. However, she also recognizes the need for professionalism and maintaining a level of separation between personal and business interactions.

Q: How did Heidi approach gender bias in her career, as highlighted in the Heidi Roizen Case?

Heidi acknowledges the gender bias highlighted in the case and finds it disappointing that it still exists. While she personally doesn't feel the bias, she has observed its presence in certain situations. She believes that gender bias is slowly diminishing but emphasizes the importance of continuing to work towards equality. Heidi encourages women to prove their worth beyond being just a diversity hire and to focus on adding value and making a meaningful contribution.

Q: What is Heidi's advice for managing e-mail, social media, and online presence?

Heidi advises setting boundaries and being disciplined when it comes to managing e-mail and online presence. She suggests finding a balance between being constantly connected and taking breaks from technology. Heidi also highlights the challenges of managing social media platforms, such as Facebook, and recommends being selective about accepting friend requests and staying focused on meaningful connections.

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