Everyone should benefit from the meeting – not just you

Two years into venture capital, I am still at the beginning of becoming a good investor. I learnt a lot, most of the technicalities, understanding our investors and how things turn bad and then good again with my portfolio in no time. And much more I will elaborate on eventually.

I am starting to reflect on how to become better in my job more and more. How do I make sure the people I interact with benefit the most from my work? That is foremost the entrepreneurs I work with and my partners. But there is one bigger group that I am focussing on more: everybody else I interact with.

I am starting to be more selective on who to spend time with (the struggle of having a good filter – this is a huge issue and most VCs I talk to). However, for those I do meet, I try to be a better sparring partner, someone who sometimes just listens and then makes the right introduction, someone who rather asks questions then telling opinions right away. I am trying to be less passive and suck information, but rather make sure the other person leaves the room – no matter the original intent – and remember it as time spent valuable.

About half a year ago I started developing this mantra, that I now try to follow in every meeting: How do I make sure that the other side of the table benefits from the meeting just as much as I do?

When I go over the documents I received, I already try to think of people that would benefit from meeting the other side even more than I would – both on the investor and on the biz dev side. And usually these are the people my meeting guest will benefit from, too.

Why? I fundamentally believe in the old saying: you always meet twice. Connecting people is a huge part of this industry, and when you connect people who benefit from meeting each other, they connect you with the people you want to meet. And everyone wins. Sounds obvious, but applying it to every single meeting (yeah, there are some where it doesn’t happen) has pushed me to becoming a better investor by a little.

On the other hand, by thinking about who knows about an industry better than I do, who could be a valuable customer, who could be a great future employee and who could help solve a certain problem – helps me understand the situation / model / industry / market better as well.

And so, everyone wins.