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Relationship Management Startups

Why Relationships are Paramount for Executive Recruiters

By Anne Gherini
Why Relationships are Paramount for Executive Recruiters

Vanetta Partners is an Affinity client and one of the premier executive search firms based in San Francisco. Vanetta prides itself on identifying the strongest potential relationships between candidates and employers--it acts as a “matchmaker”.

Andi Vanetta, CEO & Founder of Vanetta Partners, recently sat down with us to discuss the importance of relationships in executive recruiting. Vanetta emphasizes that there’s an art to matchmaking. When engaged in the role of the matchmaker, Vanetta primarily focuses on finding a cultural fit.

“We look for clients and business partners that are like-minded, with shared values and intentions”.

In order to optimally pair candidates with employers, Vanetta explains that an organization’s size and the stage is an important matter to consider. Based on experience, Vanetta operates under the general premise that candidates with a deep passion for, and expertise working at, early-stage companies tend to be best suited for stealth and Series A employers.

“From mentality to grit, and sheer commitment, these candidates have the ability to be highly collaborative, agile, and prefer working on teams with diverse skill sets.”

On the flip side, candidates with an established background working at larger companies tend to exhibit a working style that is conducive to working with large organizations with considerable structure and well-established repeatable business processes.

For Vanetta, the importance of building long-term, long-lasting relationships with employers cannot be overstated. It’s very much a “land and expand” mentality—it’s not about engaging in a "shotgun" marriage.

Long-term relationships only transpire with authenticity and a high-touch approach. It’s critical that executive recruiting firms demonstrate a high level of EQ; they must genuinely listen to clients' unique needs and pain points. Top-performing executive recruiters must act as a continual sounding board for employers and, in turn, assume a role that is akin to a supportive coach.

Relationship-building with candidates is equally important. Many of the individuals that Vanetta places are passive candidates, persons not actively looking for jobs. Because Vanetta works primarily with early-stage, highly technical SaaS companies, there’s a need and desire on the part of employers to strategically head hunt and cherry-pick top talent from a calculated list of companies and competitors within an employer's niche space.

Vanetta and the team invest significant time and effort in finding that perfect match--there’s not a blanket one-size-fits-all formula. Candidates recognize and appreciate the effort and time Vanetta invests in finding a perfect match. There’s an awe-moment reaction from candidates tied to being hand-selected from a pool of talent for a coveted role. The reactions are palpable. “They become highly motivated to make the opportunity a reality.”

While cold outreach tactics are inevitable in the executive recruiting sphere, warm introductions move waters. When Andi Vanetta and team receive referrals and warm introductions from existing clients or other connections, these are always more valuable and effective than cold outreach.

Andi Vanetta

“A warm introduction is a powerful endorsement that proactively builds trust and interest in working with any firm.”


In one example, a longstanding client introduced Vanetta to MapBox, a provider of custom online maps, heralding Vanetta as “the best in the game”. At the time, MapBox only had 300 developer centric employees and was in its early stages for sales (the company has since grown rapidly and is now a supplier to acclaimed companies such as the Financial Times, The Weather Channel, and Snapchat). As a result of the warm introduction, Vanetta was given the opportunity to be Mapbox's talent acquisition partner for their earliest sales hires.

For Vanetta and the team, the real metric of success is building genuine long-standing relationships.

Learn more about how Affinity helps leaders like Vanetta manage and leverage their relationships.

Relationship Management Startups