From Networking to Dealmaking

About a month ago, Seattle hosted our first Alley to the Valley (A2V) Summit with 65 handpicked influential women who are entrepreneurs, investors, and corporate executives.

What hooked me about being a part of this, is that the point of A2V Summits is to get past networking, and get to dealmaking. It’s a day to make things happen for each other and accelerate your goals.

While there were some powerful speaking sessions, the most important part of the day was the Ask/Offer Sessions, when each Dealmaker shared who they are, what they are asking for and why. For example, women asked for funding for their startup, for intros to strategic partners, for co-founders, for board seat opportunities, etc.

Here’s what I learned:

Get clear on what you most want
What is the domino that will start knocking over the rest of the dominos? What do you need to find out first before you can choose a certain path? What doors can this specific group of people help you open that would be harder to do without them?

Figure out who can help
Do your homework and know your audience. Pick an ask that they can help you with and think of how you can provide value to them ahead of time.

Tailor your profile
We’ve all accomplished so much, but the key is to focus your profile. Our amazing coach Keita Williams taught us that your supporting materials (aka your bio, LinkedIn profile etc.) must support your ask. Meaning, if you’re raising money for your start-up, your profile should talk about your business and your entrepreneurial chops. Or if you’re a VC, your bio should talk about which type of start-ups you invest in.

Craft your ask for the audience
Everyone in the room is busy, so make it as easy as possible for them to help you. Instead of asking for intros to executives in the auto industry, provide a list of company names and executive titles you’re looking to meet. Get as specific as possible, provide examples, and demonstrate that you won’t waste the introduction.

Follow-up and make the magic happen
Once people have offered to make an introduction or offered to help, it’s on you to follow-up. You may have to follow-up a few times with gentle nudges. Think about how to make it easy to help you. For example, you could write a sample introduction email that your contact can copy and paste.

Give and share your network
Most importantly, what introductions can you make, or advice can you share to help someone else advance their goals? We each have built networks and can help open doors for others.

The conference was designed around this dealmaking format, but this ask/offer framework can also work in many situations. I love it because it helps the conversation get past small talk to thinking about ways we can support each others in our goals.

What is your biggest ask? Who can open doors for you? How can you help others achieve their goals?

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