Serial Entrepreneur Marc Kramer has run over 25 startups, written six books, raised billions of dollars and is a former Inc. Entrepreneur of the Year. The first book he wrote was Power Networking.
Marc and I met at an Angel Venture Fair event he promoted at the Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs. Through one of my connections I had received an invitation to attend an educational session where entrepreneurs seeking funding had the opportunity to present to Angel Investors and receive feedback. I was super impressed with the event, how it was organized, and the networking.
As Executive Director of the Private Investor’s Forum that runs Angel Venture Fair, Marc shares that this organization focuses on educating entrepreneurs on how to present themselves to Angel Investors and how to network. Marc feels that the networking aspect of the events they run is incredibly important, this is where entrepreneurs learn to position themselves to raise capital from the right type of investor.
Presenters for their events come from various levels of experience. Marc is very thoughtful when he selects presenters because he wants to bring diverse presentations and presentation skills to the audience, once again allowing for an entrepreneurial learning opportunity. We discussed the various presenters and he shared his surprise at the differences in the 3 presenters we observed that day and how different they all were.
Marc believes in the importance of developing presentation skills. Marc shares with people that they need to hone down their presentation for the “elevator pitch”. He stresses the importance of a succinct message because elevator meetings really do happen, in fact we’ve both had it happen on more than one occasion.
In Power Networking Marc shares his story about growing up in a small town and needing to connect to grow his business. He talks about how he made it his mission to connect with as many people as possible at every event he attends. He focuses on who he can help and how he can connect them. He never looks at networking for who can help him, for Marc, it’s all about who can he help.
“What can I do for you?” is a question Marc asks. He says that later people will then ask “What can I do for you? Who can I connect you with?” Marc wrote the book because, so few people have good networking skills and he wanted to share a methodology to help them become better networkers. He says this is especially for people on the technical side, because it’s just not the way they are wired, and they need to be able to tell their stories. As entrepreneurs, you need to be able to tell your story to be able to raise capital.
Marc shares that his whole business is based on networking. Every great opportunity that he has had has been because of networking with people who have opened doors for him. When he started the Penn State Technology Development Center, a business incubator for Penn State University, he shares that he had met someone at an event who had told him about the opportunity. Throughout his life this has always been the case; he comes up with an idea, shares it with people in his network asking “Who do you think would be interest in this?”, and they connect him with the right people.
His book Small Business Turn Around is a prime example of the power of his network. After being turned down by 54 different publishers and because he really believed in it, he asked his publisher at McGraw Hill who he should talk to. Her recommendation lead to a contract with a check and the book has been recognized as one of the 30 Best Business Books by Executive Book Summaries.
If it wasn’t for networking opportunities Marc says that 90% of his good fortune in life would not have happened.
As for social media, Marc uses LinkedIn primarily to connect with people who can open doors for the things he does. He likes joining groups and learning things from people there. He’ll share helpful information in the groups as a way to support and connect with people. He also shares links to his articles that he writes for his column in the American City Business Journal. People will contact him through LinkedIn with questions about the articles he posts.
They may also ask for an introduction to people he interviews for his recently launched video series, The Best Business Minds. He shares these stories and interviews on various social media platforms to bring education to the business community. He wanted to learn more about using Zoom and he saw interviews as a way to learn and, at the same time, provide a benefit to his community.
From networking Marc has gained some amazing connections and clients. He shares one particular story about connecting on his way home from a Kramer Communications client meeting in NYC. On the train there was a woman sitting across the table. Marc asked what she does. She shared that she was the Chief Marketing Officer at a large NY Stock Exchange company. He asked her several questions about her work, all the while focused on learning more about her.
After a while she asked what he does. He told her what his does for Kramer Communications clients. Her response… we need someone to help us right now. She told him she’d contact him when she got home, which she did. She told him she wanted to set up a meeting with her boss, which she did. This one connection led to $100,000 contract, his largest single contract to date.
Marc also shares how he sat with 3 people on a plane coming home from Panama. One became a close friend for over 18 years now. In that time, she became the U.S. Ambassador to Panama and is now the 3rd person at the U.N. Another was a gentleman whose family owned Adidas for all Latin America. Marc has done consulting for that family.
If you just sit there and don’t do anything, your missing great opportunities. Engage with people. Ask “Where are you going?” or “What do you do?”
When you are fascinated and interested in what people do, you are going to develop a lot of relationships and have a lot of contacts. People are going to think of you as a go to person, not just for networking but for a variety of other things. There’s no bigger gift than making introductions, even introductions outside of business.
“There is a great gift to be given that costs you nothing, which is helping other people.”
Marc shares that women are much better at listeners than men. Men find it much easier to talk about themselves. Women don’t like to tell their stores as much and you almost have to pull it out of them. As women become more comfortable, they are more willing to share more about themselves.
Favorite questions Marc likes to ask:
- What do they do?
- What college did they go to?
- What sports do they do?
- What hobbies do they have?
- How many kids do they have?
- What do their kids do?
Nothing makes someone more grateful than when you offer to help their kids or send them something (an article, a book, etc.) about an interest or hobby.
Marc is starting a new venture called Funding Organizer, a program that allows you to put all your information in one place and share it with your banker. This is a way to reduce the pain of all the back and forth of obtaining a commercial loan. Marc shares how his network led to this new venture and another, Stress Free Family Business.
Networking has led to much of Marc’s success. He sincerely believes and shares that you’re missing out on a great part of life and all the opportunities that happen from networking if you’d rather sit on the couch binge watching shows.
Connect with Marc Kramer
Social Media: https://www.linkedin.com/in/marc-kramer-21280/