In a recent interview for Bizwoman.com, Sallie Krawcheck, former CFO of Citigroup and president of Global Wealth and Investment Management at Bank of America, and current owner and chairwoman of Ellevate, a global women’s professional networking organization, advised that her secret weapon for building a successful career is “loose connections.”
Loose connections, Krawcheck explained, are people you casually meet at meetings, conferences, or in your travels (business or personal) and their contacts. Krawcheck credits her professional success to loose connections and believes they are key to career advancement generally and more than likely the best place to find business opportunities.
As an example of the utility of loose connections, Krawcheck explained how the purchase of her company, Ellevate, emanated from a plane ride next to the former chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Arthur Levitt, in 2009. She described how this introduction led to a series of other introductions, and ultimately to a connection with Janet Hanson, the founder of 85 Broads, the women’s networking organization that Krawcheck bought in 2013 and renamed Ellevate. Krawcheck noted that not one of the intermediary contacts that helped make the transaction possible were the “kind of friend Krawcheck would invite over for dinner.”
Krawcheck cautions that the key to maintaining loose connections is to focus on what you can give to the relationships, e.g., by providing information of interest to the contacts through email, LinkedIn, or even a quick phone call, as opposed to what you can get out of them. In doing so, Krawcheck suggests that it is best to keep your message “short but thoughtful” to demonstrate that you were thinking of the particular individual when you read the article, saw the video, met the person, etc., that you are referring to them.
Krawcheck maintains that by following this advice, you can make many valuable connections with minimal effort; she warns, however, that you should not “expect magic” with each communication—the implication being that it is a marathon, not a race, and if you are patient, you will be rewarded.
Keywords: litigation, woman advocate, networking, connections, career success, relationships