VC Cliche of the Week

I often hear people say about someone, "they’ve got a big rolodex".

That means they know a lot of people in business and that they spend a lot of time working on their relationships.

I’ve spent the past hour and half working on my rolodex, in this case my contact database in Outlook.  I’ve had two contact databases for the past 10 years.  Don’t ask me why, but its was something that I started a long time ago and I’ve never wanted to go through the hassle of merging them.

Well I’ve finally done it, forced by my server cutover, and the process was really interesting.  As there were thousands of duplicates, I decided to manually de-dupe the thing. And so thousands of contacts were coming at me for the past hour and a half.  It was a virtual tour through my personal rolodex and it was fascinating.

There are people in my personal rolodex that I haven’t talked to in 10 years.  Are they really contacts of mine anymore?  I guess it depends.  There are people who were daily contacts of mine five years ago that I never talk to anymore.  Is that a good thing?  Probably not, but its reality.  And there are people in my contact database that I just met in the past month that have become very important to me.

The point of this is a rolodex is living breathing thing.  It changes daily.  Maybe the names in it don’t change, but the relationships do.  The people that I know who are the best networkers are working their rolodexes constantly, never letting contacts get old, and building deeper and stronger relationships every day.

I have never considered myself particularly good at that, but as I get older I have begun to recognize the value of managing the rolodex.  And one good thing is that a relationship is a two way thing.  The other person, if they are a good networker, will work on maintaining the relationship as well.

But one thing is for sure.  The size of the rolodex does not matter nearly as much as the quality of the relationships.  You can count the number of names in your outlook contact database, but you can’t measure the strength of those relationships.  That is something that just reveals itself over time.