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Heidi Roizen Case Essay

1. Describe Roizen’s network (including her reasons for developing her network) and how she developed it.

Roizen’s young adult life shaped the reasons as to why she was going to become independent and self-sufficient. After suffering the tragic loss of her fiancé she set out to build a career and learned very early on that building connections with high-level people was something she had a talent for and something she ought not to miss out on when given the opportunity. Roizen knew she wanted to be in the technology industry, but with a creative writing degree she had limited options of jobs to choose from. At Tandem computers she wrote the internal newspaper serving as a link between the executives (including the CEO) and the rest of the employees. Roizen immediately realized how to leverage this aspect of her job description and thus began a decade long career of networking.

After Tandem Roizen went to get her MBA and then partnered with her brother to launch a company that sold spreadsheet software he developed. T-Maker did not have excessive amounts of capital like some of its competitors, but Roizen knew that with her outgoing personality and her desire to meet (interesting and smart) people she could make the company successful. While marketing T/Maker she made important relationships with people that would end up shaping her career as well as dominating the Silicon Valley technology scene. Roizen was taking a gamble spending so much of her time and energy in developing rapport with these people, but thus far it had proven to be an integral factor in her career development.

2. What are Roizen’s principles of networking and relationships? How would you analyze the strengths and weaknesses of her network as we see it at the end of the case?

Because of the amount of time and energy Roizen devotes to networking over time she developed guiding principles to maintain stability. Firstly Heidi claims you must have access to people, which is accomplished over a period of time. Also held at high regard is maintaining “performance and consistency during and after each interaction.” Performance involves responsiveness and follow-through in doing what you offered or agreed upon doing. By focusing on performance and consistency Roizen believes that efficiency in maintaining relationships is achieved because interactions of high levels of substance can occur with less frequency. During Roizen’s time at Apple she adopted her next principle, which stressed neutrality and confidentiality in her relationships with competitors. While she did not explicitly state that trust was necessary most people cited in the case seemed to truly trust Roizen and her intentions, which brings us to her last and perhaps most important principle of reciprocity.

Roizen values reciprocity in the sense that before calling in a favor she must evaluate if it is a win-win situation for both parties. Heidi has been referred to as a catalyst, market maker, and door opener so before she can do something for someone else she wants to make sure there are mutual benefits to be realized. Heidi is a high-profile industry captain who frankly does not have the time to perform acts of goodwill all day. Her networking is the bulk of her business and her resume. The strengths of her network are that throughout her career and specifically at Softbank her networking landed her the position of partner.

Before evaluating the strengths of Roizen’s network one must take the time to recognize that it takes a certain ebullient, patient, conscientious, amicable human being to be able to achieve a network with the wide spectrum of powerful individuals that Roizen began amalgamating at a very young age. The strengths of her network include penetrating the Technology sector and becoming a celebrity of Silicon Valley. Through her network she was able to leverage these relationships to benefit her herself and others along the way. By establishing her guidelines she was able to healthily separate work and her personal life even though an outsiders’ perspective may think theses boundaries are blurred in the case of Roizen’s dinner parties.

It is quite apparent that much of Roizen’s success can be attributed to her expertise in the area of networking. She has positively leveraged this unique skill throughout her career to make win-win situations for both herself and the other party involved. Unfortunately networking does come with some downside. It is overwhelmingly time consuming. As the case mentioned Roizen receives upwards of 100 e-mails a day that she feels obliged to personally answer in order to maintain successful work-related (and sometimes personal) relationships. An acquaintance mentioned the lengthiness of her e-mails decreased over time until the responses were incomplete sentences.

This reflects poorly on Roizen because the 2000+ people she networks with all consider her a “friend” and expect perhaps more than she can provide them with in terms of time and energy devoted to the relationship. Besides the work-related strains this networking seeps into her personal life where she is constantly hosting events at her home, leaving little separation between home and work. Overall the networking doesn’t allow for a balanced work life, which many people claim to be essential in achieving overall happiness and even success.

3. How does she use her network, and what does she achieve through her network?

Heidi realized at her first job at Tandem that she had to use her talent of being a people-person to move up in this world. She had a good eye for how to manipulate situations into the interests of her network. Starting with T/Maker she started maximizing all social situations to the benefit of marketing T/Maker. The time she spent developing these relationships during the 1980’s laid out the foundation of her network and consequently her career. Then during Apple’s decline of the 1990’s Roizen was called to the rescue where first the first time she was to formally use her network in the developer community to rebuild a brand. Her success was primarily attributed to her relationships and how she was able to effectively use them to her benefit and in this case in Apple’s benefit. Her work awarded her a promotion to build strategy and eventually to leave and create her own job description as a mentor capitalist.

This is Heidi using her network at its finest. Heidi realized what she had built was unique and consequently her network gave her the ability to tailor her job description around her likes and strengths. As an independent and external director she was responsible for recruiting key positions and with her probable one-degree of separation between her and the rest of Silicon Valley she was able to make some impressive matches. It is one thing to have developed the network Heidi has, but is another to know how to perfectly utilize its full potential and Heidi has done so throughout the course of her career. Moving to the venture capital world allowed Heidi to fulfill an interest in the equity ownership or the “financial weight” of these start- up companies. With this career change came additional responsibilities that would take away from the time Heidi had previously spent networking. Now it is up to Heidi to re-prioritize and arrange her duties to create a healthy balance of completing her venture capitalist duties, while retaining the network she so dutifully built.

4. How would you characterize the “breadth” and “depth” (strong or weak ties) of her network?

Part of Heidi’s networking phenomenon involves a metaphor of networking as constellations. Heidi can minimize relationship maintenance by staying in more frequent contact with other nuclei of network constellations. Heidi over the years has assumed position of nuclei in her particular networking group and this gives her the ability to “leverage the network constellation approach” which results in preserving the breadth of her entire network. Her network spans thousands of people who all consider themselves personally acquainted with Heidi. There is not enough time in the day to cater to each individual so Heidi cuts corners by remaining in close contact with the nuclei of all the different networks she is a part of. Heidi also has depth to her network in the sense that she keeps in touch with non-nuclei of other networks.

Heidi is most definitely a people person and over the course of her career she has gotten to know people who she likes as individuals because they are interesting and smart (two of her pre-requisites in networking!) That being said the depth of her network may seem to contradict with maintaining the breadth through the constellation approach, but Heidi’s networking is deeply instilled in her so she sees value in her relationships with the nuclei and the random individuals. And thus far her hybrid approach has proven to be successful in all of her career-driven endeavors.

5. What are your suggestions for Roizen to continue to develop and maintain her network? Should she change anything in terms of people, effort, strategies, etc?

In order to effectively exploit Heidi’s strengths I would suggest that since she seems to have flexibility in designing her job she could cut down the time she spends reading business plans for a few reasons; she does not enjoy that aspect of venture capital and because she could use that time to network which is a main reason why she was hired. Currently Heidi does not have enough time to evaluate business plans, help companies in early growth stages and to maintain her networking relationships. If Softbank wants to be able to take advantage of Heidi’s rolodex they will have to agree to her requests to be able to keep up her relationships.

Fortunately most executives understand how time consuming networking can be and when it is done at Heidi’s level it should be deemed a full time job. I understand Heidi’s reasons for wanting to spend time with the business plans, but by delegating an initial screening process downward in the organization she may find herself with an extra few hours each day to complete time-sensitive networking issues, which would ultimately increase her performance and effectiveness.

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