Networking for Fund Managers & Founders

Every year we organise network accelerator events throughout the Gulf and in Europe. 

And every year, we are shocked at how super bright financial types of all ages find it so difficult to make friends and influence people in group settings. 

And we have a responsibility to address the problem because we organise gatherings with the express intention of accelerating our client’s connectivity in the exciting Middle Eastern markets but we tend to forget that most are world class pros at a very different activity.

Sitting on a proprietary trading desk, in front of a Bloomberg, working in a large corporate, coding, analysing, running money or sitting on investment committees is about as far away from ‘giving and gaining’ at a networking event as can be imagined.    

And yet, however uncomfortable it may appear, networking with new friends and partners is mission critical for any fund manager or founder…particularly emerging managers less than 5 years in.  

When we curate an audience, whether it’s a lunch for 6 or an evening for 60, we carefully construct the attendees to all have value to our clients and by return they expect value from our clients. This brings us to unpacking the concept of ‘give and gain.’

So, you’re raising money for your first or second fund or project – you search relevant events and focus only on those where you can sell and pitch. Events where there are high volumes of attendees, speakers, panels, stalls and stands.

Sounds sensible right? 

Nah, completely wrong approach unless you’re BlackRock.

The best networking events for boutique & emerging firms aren’t for pitching or selling. They’re for ice breaking. Land yourself, land your team & land your brand. Don’t talk deep product, don’t bring a deck, just bring a smile.     

Enjoy the process of simply meeting new people with no expectation, offer to give before you expect to gain, find a win-win that enables you to fix that follow up get together.   

Choose events of a manageable size, check the organisers – are they industry veterans from your own sector or simply event organisers across many verticals? Is attendee data available to you? Can you take 2 team members so you can divide and conquer?      

Once you’ve arrived at your investment industry networking event, here are just 6 of the many scenarios that might not feel natural at first, but we promise they work!

  • Get talking to the specialist recruiters, they will have placed the exact SEO’s at the allocators you most want to talk to & have their numbers on speed-dial. Why not co-host a brunch together and gather some mutual pipeline connections?   
  • An allocator you’re talking to doesn’t play in your asset class? Remember to ask for 3 referrals to people he thinks would be interested in your message.
  • A guest is coming on strong selling you on their project when you thought you’d be the one doing the talking – take the tack of giving to gain – can you help her and ask robustly for a targeted referral by return?    
  • When you get back to the hotel, add every single person you met on LinkedIn before you turn in for the night. Actually, add them whilst you’re talking to them, message them that night and fix a coffee as soon as a gap emerges. Who doesn’t love to see a connection request in their inbox from someone cool they only just met?     
  • You’re talking to a big brand service provider, perhaps it’s a fund administrator or trustee. You’ve already selected your own partners and it’s tempting to slide off for another glass of red. But, hang on, that firm likely knows and deals with every LP you know and 250 you never heard of because he’s hosting the great and the good of funds all over the world. He can open golden doors and he also wants you on his radar for the future when you’re managing 10 figures. Book a zoomer asap!  
  • A fractional lawyer strolls over for a chat but you’ve already got a GC. But this guy’s business model and economic structure intrigues you so you agree to lay down a marker for the future and meet the next day – the even bigger win here is that because he’s fractional he acts for 7 other firms and you figure out that 3 would be gold standard pipeline clients for you.        

Folks, to butcher a well-worn but accurate phrase….your network is your firm’s net worth.  

We’re hosting a variety of network accelerators throughout 2024, if you’d like to be there, find out about our solutions by contacting us here.