Elizabeth Patterson is responsible for cultivating and managing Sapphire Venture’s human capital network, including the Sapphire Fellows program. Her networks span influencer, professional, social, economic and cultural circles. She works closely with Sapphire’s portfolio companies to understand their strategic talent needs and aligns these needs with talent and resources from within Sapphire’s network; helping the portfolio companies to grow and optimize outcomes.
Read the interview on how Elizabeth Patterson thinks about creating and cultivating her professional network in 2019.
What are some best practices for building your network?
To me, networking is innate. Networking comes down to a sincere curiosity in people and their stories.
I often think, “What if…?” or “I wonder what would happen if I introduced him or her to…” when I meet someone new and hear his or her story. I am deeply curious about the possibilities of what could be. Individuals that I have introduced based on their shared interests or backgrounds include: friends who have summited Mount Everest; motorcycle enthusiasts; female data scientists; alums from Kellogg School of Management (The funny thing is, I didn’t go to Kellogg); Ironman athletes; Polish Americans; people who have toured with rock bands; aspiring independent Board directors; single friends (This has resulted in several marriages) and startup founders.
In my career at Sapphire Ventures, our Talent Network team curates and maintains our executive ecosystem on behalf of Sapphire’s portfolio and our investment teams. We’ve successfully united executives and board directors, customers and business partners with our portfolio companies. It’s like winning the job lottery to network every day!
Is there any single thing that has worked best for you?
Sincerity in my relationship with people.
Who are 3 key ‘personas’ to have in your network?
I find all types of personas interesting and engaging. Why limit yourself to just three?
What are some ways you’ve seen the practice of networking change in the last few years?
Social networking and technology can provide insights into what is going on in peoples’ lives as well as their personal and professional interests. I leverage Twitter, CrunchBase, Medium, YouTube and LinkedIn before most executive meetings to help me prepare. Through their use, I can establish tighter connections and more thoughtful discussions.
I’ll share a personal example to illustrate this. My friend, Chris Tsakalakis, introduced me to a former colleague of his from eBay, Gene Cook. To prepare for my first meeting with Gene, I searched Google and found a video by Gene, My eBay Corvette Story. Curious, I watched it. In doing so, I learned that Gene was from a small town in Kentucky, and he loved vintage Corvettes. At the time, my husband and I owned a 1959 vintage automobile, so I could naturally connect with Gene about vintage cars. Coincidentally, I had purchased our car on eBay where Gene now worked.
Following my meeting with Gene, I received a handwritten note from him with a bronze German racing medal from 1959. On the medal, was the exact model of our car, and in his note, Gene wrote, “This one of the best meetings I have ever had.”
I later went on to advise one of Gene’s startups, and we remain close friends to this day.
If you’d like to learn more, please visit Elizabeth Patterson of Sapphire Ventures.
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