The other day I talked about Jeff Bussgang’s book Mastering the VC Game. I highly recommend this for anyone who thinks they may want to raise venture capital someday.

In the book, Bussgang includes the stories of some stellar entrepreneurs. In particular, I loved the story about Eric Paley who keenly built and successfully sold his startup to 3M.

There are a few reasons Eric was so successful, but one lesson that stuck out to me was how he developed his network early. He made the connection to Jeff as an MBA student, before even mentioning his startup. When it was time to pitch the idea, he already had a warm connection.

Conversely, when we started building HomeField, we didn’t have any connections to the world of investors. We really didn’t know much about startups at all. We just wanted to create this thing to scratch our own itch and figured we’d learn along the way.

Over time, I slowly started to hear about some of the major players online: Fred Wilson, Brad Feld, Bijan Sabet - but I still didn’t know anyone who knew them!

However, thanks to their life-streaming and my avid reading/commenting habits, I was able to develop a relationship with them through their blogs and eventually met with all of them in person (one in an office, one on a 6am run around the Flatiron District, and one on a football field. Ok, coffee first, then football).  

I’m lucky I was able to do this, but it took time to get there and I’m still playing catch-up. I wish I’d known them sooner. Hell, I wish I’d started this business before I even graduated, but then I wouldn’t have done this, this, or this.

Point is - if you think you may want to work with someone in the future, make the connection as soon as you can… and in general, make as many good quality connections as well. As I’m learning from our ‘sherpa’ Allen Morgan, they’ll pay off in the long run.

[And to be clear, I mean real connections. Facebook, LinkedIn et al. are great for research, but they don’t count.]