Opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of Rolling Stone editors or publishers.
It’s often said that you are the sum total of the people around you. Your network matters, so when you’re trying to build up your entrepreneurial connections, you’ll want to choose individuals who align with your business values and morals.
However, this can be easier said than done. That’s why a panel of Rolling Stone Culture Council members shared specific qualities you should look for in a person that will help you determine if they’re the “right” person to connect with. Here are 13 characteristics they recommend and why each is so important.
Being genuine really stands out these days when there are so many who seek to take advantage or have the wrong intentions when networking (especially for business purposes), which often comes out in the way people pitch themselves. Are they focusing more on dropping names or do they educate you on projects they’ve contributed to with real action and/or success? “Trust, but verify.” – Tyler ‘Jett’ Prescott, PennyFly Entertainment
Diverse Industry Experience
As I always say, forget mega success and instead look for good people in diverse industries. There’s too much thought placed on what others can offer you. Instead, focus on building a supportive network of individuals who continually inspire you and bring fresh thoughts to your conversations. – Mike Varshavski, Doctor Mike Media
I look for the smartest people in the room who enjoy helping others propel forward in life. Those are the people you want in your corner, and that’s the type of person that I always strive to be. – Maren Steiner, Emergency-1 Response, Inc.
I look for a leader. A person with leadership skills is honest, generous, has strong morals and also gives credit to other people. That’s integrity. That’s a person with principles who will bring great energy to the networking process and make it worth it. – Anthony Katz, iNEXXUS
You can smell authenticity from a mile away. You can build a lot of trust on authenticity, and I only allow authentic people on my bus. By authenticity, I mean the feeling you get when you speak with them. You know that if they give their word, they will follow through. You know they will be honest with you, even when it’s hard. You know they will not throw you under the bus. Those are my people. – Shirin Etessam, OML
Experience in Your ‘Gap’ Areas
The right network adds to your knowledge and perspective rather than being a cadre of “bobbleheads.” Look for gaps in your own skill set and views, and fill them with smart, kind and helpful types who believe in mutual support and loyalty. Prepare to be challenged! – Nancy A Shenker, theONswitch & nunu ventures
Similar Moral Values
When it comes to anti-bullying activism, having someone who shares the same moral values makes efforts significantly easier and more meaningful. For what we do, having strong mental stamina helps us to connect and work with those individuals who are targeted by aggressors. – Andrew Rossow, The Guardian Project
The one quality I look for is flexibility. This trait is a vital component to any aspiring or established thought leader and influencer. For instance, in our ever-changing world, the ability to effectively pivot is an understated quality. One example of when that’s needed is in how we market our services during the recent pandemic. With the help of innovative video technologies, we can do so effortlessly. – Jeff Shuford, National Invest In Veterans Week
Plenty of people love to have conversations, to brainstorm, to inspire or be inspired. But of those folks, who will actually listen, support and connect? When someone’s words don’t match their actions, forget about it. I’ll speak with them when I don’t require the next step. I hold out for those rock stars who are all in — engaged, committed and thrilled to help and follow up on those collaborations. – Scotty Kober, San Francisco Youth Soccer
Care for How They Show Up in the World
The people we choose to connect with are the people we choose to have affecting us. Choosing the right people then becomes a necessary ingredient in building a positive environment in every way. Knowing this makes it easier to weed out the people we should pass on. Choose the people who believe that it’s better to care about who they are as “people” in the world and who you are too. – Stephanie Dillon, Stephanie Dillon Art
The one quality you should look for in this context is honesty (and not skepticism — there is a difference). You want someone who will give it to you straight and not just affirm your point of view to be nice. Their candor should be part of a larger conversation that helps you to overcome any obstacles to achieving your goal or vision. – Harrison Wise, Wise Collective Inc.
Our age of information deluge yields two types of people: the first is immediately responsive, or at least excels in expectation management; the second allows information to fall into a black hole — a void of communication. This is unacceptable. I look for warmth and enthusiasm. If you’re chasing someone in the early days, it isn’t going to get any better down the line, is it? – Paul Blanchard, Right Angles
A Willingness to Exchange Ideas
This is an area that requires us to consider our network and its true purpose. The exchange of ideas means you should pull from a wide range of disciplines in order to find synergies that enhance your goal and add to the collective thinking. You may find an acre of diamonds and come to further appreciate your connections. – Michael Polk, Billboardology.com