When your team has a network of 10000+ people, standard processes don't work anymore. Even simple actions like keeping in touch with important people, and not dropping the ball on new connections, are extremely hard to do.
In order to better understand how a firm can effectively manage this corpus of relationships, we spoke with Caroline Graham, the Director of all operations at 8VC, a leading early stage VC firm in San Francisco. 8VC manages thousands of new relationships every month, and Caroline is in-charge for making sure they all get an appropriate follow-up.
Read on for Caroline's perspective on she excels at her job!
Hey Caroline, thank you for taking the time to chat with us! Can you describe how your role plays a part in making 8VC successful?
Hi Shubham, it is my pleasure to sit down with you today. I always love the opportunity to talk about Affinity!
As 8VC’s Operations Director, I am responsible for helping us figure out how to fine-tune the relationship between 8VC and our network. I manage data to help our partners and investment team strategize. My team enables them to learn from each other, make better decisions on how to allocate time, and determine how to best help our entrepreneurs. My role is to take a macro-view of our network — creating processes to ensure that we carefully cultivate each of our relationships, and do our best to keep from dropping any interactions. Managing our network is a complex problem, one that I am continually trying to solve in better and more efficient ways.
Obviously you are someone who has a really hard task - can you tell us a little bit about the challenges you face when it comes to managing relationships for the firm?
The biggest challenge we face, and the one that keeps me up at night, is avoiding any dropped interactions and relationships. Our network is our largest, and most important asset, with each piece being equally as important as any other. The network is always moving and always growing, so constantly staying on top of the all the data is crucial. From capturing and organizing new data to scrubbing and managing existing data, we do our best to ensure that we don’t miss anything.
What are the biggest blockers you noticed in your workflow?
Capturing new data and updated context is easier in theory than it is in practice. Simply stated, we don’t know what we don’t know – and that is the single biggest blocker to our workflow. The insight we have gained, thanks to Affinity, into our network and the individual relationships therein has proven invaluable.
What is the typical process for handling a new relationship?
Once a new relationship is formed, be it an organization or individual, the very first thing we enter all pertinent information directly into Affinity. We capture every bit of information we can find – from name and location to industry focus and relationship origin. Any information we can capture will help us to manage the relationship in the most respectful and constructive ways going forward.
What was life like before Affinity?
Life before Affinity was a dark time. Our work flow was largely manual and completely de-centralized. We used a slew of products to manage our network, each only solving one part of the equation, and none actually developed for the purpose for which we were using it.
How has Affinity streamlined the process for you and your team?
As I mentioned briefly before, Affinity has given us insight into our network that we simply didn’t have before. At any moment, any member of our team can see the status of a relationship – who that induvial or organization is in contact with, how frequently, and in what manner. Not only that, but Affinity allows us the insight into how entities in our network are related and connected to each other – something we simply didn’t have before, in any form. For the first time, we are able to centralize our data, allowing us the ability to build work flows and processes that we can trust on top of it.
What is your favorite part about Affinity?
My, personal, favorite part of Affinity is to drill into a list and instantly see a snapshot of interactions with each entity. I am able to quickly identify any relationship that might be due for some attention, relationships that might otherwise have been inadvertently dropped. That is my favorite part, of course, aside from the wonderful Affinity team who are an absolute pleasure with whom to work.