What We’re Reading: Post-Conference Follow-up Tips, Google vs. Apple Innovation Maps, and More

1. How to follow up with people after a conference

Marketing strategist Dorie Clark writes in the Harvard Business Review that after attending a conference, it can be difficult reconnecting with the people you met at the event: “Back at work, most of us immediately go into catch-up mode; the last thing on your mind is following up with the people you just met.”

But even a small, focused effort can reap long-term benefits and help ensure that your time at the event wasn’t wasted.

Clark recommends the below, two-part framework for following up with people after a conference:

1. Set aside time to process the contacts you’ve collected

What matters is capturing the data (e.g., their contact details, where you met them), and putting this information into some kind of personalized database. This can be as sophisticated as a business card processing app, or as simple as a spreadsheet.

2. Identify a relationship goal for each contact you’ve written down

Clark acknowledges that not every contact is created equal, and you’ll want some way to categorize all the people you plan to follow up with. She suggests putting each person into one of the following categories:

  • A specific reason to follow up: those cases where you discussed a specific opportunity with them (e.g., setting up a meeting, a potential deal).
  • Building a deeper relationship: these are people with whom you want to develop a long-term connection (e.g., they work in the same industry), but there isn’t an immediate opportunity to follow up on.
  • Miscellaneous interesting people: this group includes everyone who doesn’t fit into either of the above categories. Clark herself applies an “ambient awareness” strategy for the people in this group, including sending them an invitation on LinkedIn and setting a periodic reminder to stay in touch.

2. Venture capital firm relies on its fund managers’ networks to source deals

According to PE Hub (paywall), the seed-stage venture capital firm Supernode Ventures is leveraging its fund managers’ professional networks to source new investments in enterprise software companies. Supernode is based in New York City, and was founded by investors Laurel Touby and Jenny Friedman.

 Note: Some of the leading venture capital and private equity firms use RelSci specifically for the purpose highlighted in this article – using referrals and warm introductions to source deals. We’ve also written about how PE firms can better leverage their relationship capital to be more successful here and here.

3. Google vs. Apple: Patent maps reveal fascinating trends about organizational structure

Research by the data visualization company Periscopic suggests that mapping the patents of Apple and Google can show how differently the two companies operate from an innovation perspective.

A Fast Company article on the research quotes Wes Bernegger, a data explorer at Periscopic: “The most notable difference we see is the presence of the group of highly connected, experienced ‘super inventors’ at the core of Apple compared to the more evenly dispersed innovation structure in Google.”

As Bernegger points out, the findings suggest that Apple has a more top-down, centrally controlled innovation process versus Google’s more distributed structure that encourages independence.

4. Northwestern University researchers explore whether men and women need different networking strategies

Brian Uzzi, Professor of Leadership and Organizational Change at Northwestern University, writes in the Harvard Business Review that recent research suggests men and women benefit from having different types of networks.

Uzzi and his research colleagues studied the types of networks that help new male and female MBAs secure executive leadership positions.

Here are a few of their findings:

  • Both male and female MBA students benefit from having social networks that are “central” — being connected to multiple social hubs, or being connected to people who themselves have a lot of contacts across different groups of students.
  • This network centrality has multiple benefits, including advantages related to information access, including who’s hiring, what salaries are at different firms, how long it takes to be promoted, and how to optimize their resumes.
  • But because female MBA students face cultural and political hurdles that men typically don’t, they also need a close inner circle of female contacts. This inner circle can provide women with private information such as “whether a firm has equal advancement opportunities for men and women, or whether an interviewer might ask about plans to start a family and the best way to respond.”

5. Help your data tell the right story

Data visualization expert Nathan Yau writes on his blog Flowing Data that the common saying “Let the data speak” is often misinterpreted.

For Yau, the premise of the saying makes sense: “strip out the bits that don’t help patterns in your data emerge.” But people often take this to mean that they should create a stripped-down chart and let the data speak for itself. But as Yau points out, because even a simple dataset can have multiple meanings, you have to help the data focus and get to the point – otherwise, your data will end up telling a rambling story.

To show how a single dataset can tell multiple stories, Yau created 25 different charts from the same dataset: the World Health Organization’s life expectancy data by country, from 2000 to 2015. Each of these 25 different charts – from bar charts and box plots, to heat maps and histograms – tells a different story.

As Yau puts it, data “often has a lot – sometimes too much – to say” and it’s your job to ensure it’s telling the right story.