Yiannis Gavrielides, Co-founder & CEO of Covve; a unique contact management tool for business development, talks about the best practices for building and managing professional relationships. In this interview with TechBullion, we will understand how Covve’s software tools help professionals add that meaningful personal touch in a timely and relevant way.
Please tell us more about yourself?
I’m Yiannis Gavrielides. I am an entrepreneur with a passion for theater, food, cocktails and connecting people!
Leveraging my passion for theater I co-founded Stagedoor, the leading theater discovery app in London, which was recently acquired by one of the largest entertainment groups in the UK. My passion for cocktails led me to co-found Lost+Found Drinkery, an award-winning bar, with consecutive awards as one of top 50 bars in the world.
The common catalyst in every endeavor I undertake is connecting with great people; this makes up my biggest passion!
I co-founded Covve to help people nurture and grow their contact network and build meaningful relationships to improve their life and career.
What is Covve and what unique services do you provide?
Covve is a powerful ecosystem of products designed to help you nurture and grow your contact network.
Our flagship product is Covve Personal CRM an intuitive productivity app that helps you organize and keep on top of your relationships.
We have developed unique features, specially designed to manage relationships, for example, Covve
- reminds you to reach out to your contacts;
- it flags news about their company, their hobbies, and sports team, so you always have the right excuse at the right time and
- it guides you in taking notes so you are always on point.
Entrepreneurs, executives, brokers, and other professionals that rely on their contact network, use Covve to gain an edge in their careers.
Could you give us a walkthrough of the Covve ecosystem and an insight in the technology powering your services?
We have created a comprehensive ecosystem of tools and services for all stages of the relationship cycle.
- When you meet someone, our digital business card solutions, Covve Card and Covve Scan, make sure you exchange contact details easily while being friendly to the environment;
- Covve Personal CRM makes sure you follow up, take notes and build a meaningful relationship;
- NetworkThis, our 25-week email course, gives you all the latest insights and techniques to better connect with people.
Our products are intuitive and easy to use. At the ‘back-end’ they are powered by a proprietary engine, using cutting-edge technology and A.I. to provide our users with the information and workflows they need to better manage and leverage their contact network.
What is a network and why is it important in every business?
It is in our nature, as humans, to want to connect with each other. Together, we innovate, share ideas, and find ways to help each other grow. A network is an accumulation of contacts over time, which may be like-minded and diverse at the same time. As we nurture our networks, we strengthen long-lasting relationships in order to leverage them for various situations, and offer our aid as a means of reciprocation.
Networking is important for every business owner as it can:
- help you access a wider range of resources, knowledge, and opportunities that can benefit your business;
- identify potential partners and suppliers that can help you grow your business and improve your competitive advantage;
- help make new connections and build relationships with potential customers to generate new business and revenue;
- keep you informed about industry trends, developments, and opportunities to stay relevant and competitive;
- build your professional reputation and credibility and establish you as an expert in your field, attracting new business.
Your network can consist of mentors, collaborators, partners and even competitors. It’s all about creating room for cooperation and developing relationships from which we can learn and grow.
Furthermore, businesses that encourage networking amongst their employees are in turn helping the business grow, by enabling employees to intermingle and innovate across departments. Creating a space for collaboration brings teams closer together and become familiar with one another.
What’s important is how you manage your relationships to ensure that you don’t lose touch with them entirely. In the words of Porter Gale, “your network is your net-worth”.
What makes the Covve App the most powerful relationship management tool in the market?
What differentiates Covve from anything else out there is that it combines the simplicity of use with the powerful functionality you need to keep on top of your relationships.
Been at an event and added 20 new contacts? Covve seamlessly syncs two-way with your contacts book so you don’t need to change the way you work. The new contacts will appear in Covve ready to be added as relationships, with automatic reminders, notes and news alerts, all there to make sure you turn those contacts into meaningful relationships.
We are proud to be endorsed by industry leaders like Doug Lester, a world-class career strategist and executive coach for MBA students and alumni at a top-tier business school, and executives at Fortune 100 companies. We are also recommended by many professionals and entrepreneurs including Shannen Stewart, Founder and President of Heels and Handshakes, a 3000+ membership network dedicated to women in business and entrepreneurs.
[Shannen talks about how Covve Personal CRM has been a game-changer for her as a business owner.]
Our users tell it best:
“Covve guides me to maintain my network so I can be intentional about it”
“A structured way to manage both personal and work relationships”
“Others are clunky, too complex, difficult to understand”
“People-centric vs deal-centric”
How can networking help business owners weather the economic downturn and what role is Covve playing?
The pandemic coupled with geopolitical instability is affecting businesses and resulting in a bear market with heavy job cuts. But an economic downturn also creates opportunities. It’s the period to take more risks and obtain an edge over the competition.
Leverage your network to capitalize on these opportunities. Retain your best employees, source the best talent, focus on your existing client base, and find opportunities for partnerships, joint ventures and acquisitions.
Covve helps executives and team leaders across the world be intentional and consistent in their networking efforts. Here is how it can help you: Start by rewarming past relationships and prioritizing your contacts according to your needs and the needs of the markets you’re involved in. Refer to past interactions with them, and recall personal details about your contacts to bring up in a conversation. Nobody likes receiving an email or a call with “hey, it’s been a while, but I need your help”. Look for points of relatability with your contacts to turn a potentially awkward conversation into a warm catch-up.
Take a step back and see the bigger picture. Identify contacts in your network that can help you tackle challenges that your business is facing, and reach out to them. A positive result isn’t guaranteed, but if you let these opportunities pass you by, you’ll be missing out.
Please enlighten us more on the reasons why it pays to focus on networking to create new business opportunities?
We are in a downturn. What do you need right now? Is it new clients? Someone to help you redefine your business model or restructure your business? An investor who may give you a bridge round? All these people may be a couple of phone calls, or just a few clicks away.
Networking can help you in a number of ways when it comes to revamping your business or accessing new opportunities, it can be a catalyst for business development, financing, or even talent sourcing. According to a study conducted by Booth Business School at the University of Chicago, 29% of the founders claimed that they raised capital through networking, while 32% actively hired through their network. 34% even tapped into their network for emotional support, which matters a great deal during an economic downturn if we are being honest.
One my favorite examples in this regard is the acquisition of the marketing automation company, Eloqua by Oracle for nearly a billion dollars. According to Entrepreneur Magazine, the determining factor behind the deal were the strong ties Eloqua’s co-founder, Paul Teshima, shared with Oracle. The article writes “A lot of people already know that. But what they may not know is why the whole deal went through so seamlessly; and that was precisely because Teshima had built strong, shared relationships with the people at Oracle. In fact, Eloqua was purchased for more than 200 percent of its estimated public market value — for a $400 million-plus increase in shareholder net worth.” That’s right. The founder’s social ties with Oracle, sold his company at twice its market value.
With that being said, it is important not to limit yourself within your existing network of contacts. As a study from Northwestern University suggests, new opportunities and novel information flow in from your extended network. People and businesses that you haven’t met yet, but someone in your network may be able to introduce you to them. So make sure to ask for introductions to that friend of a friend.
What is the best way to integrate networking as part of your business plan and what are the benefits?
Networking should be an integral part of your Business Plan. Here is how:
1) Set specific goals: Determine what you want to achieve through networking, such as finding new customers, partners, or suppliers, or gathering market intelligence. This will help you focus your efforts and measure the results of your networking activities.
2) Allocate time and resources: Make networking a priority by setting aside dedicated time for it in your schedule. You may also want to allocate budget for networking events, subscriptions, or other resources that can help you build and maintain your network.
3) Identify your target audience: Think about who you want to connect with and why. This could include potential customers, partners, suppliers, mentors, or industry experts. Identify the best ways to reach out to these individuals and what value you can offer them.
4) Utilize different channels: Networking can take place in person, through social media, or through professional organizations or events. Use a variety of channels to reach out to potential contacts and to stay connected with your existing network.
5) Follow up and follow through: It’s important to follow up with contacts and to follow through on any commitments or actions you have agreed to. This helps to build trust and maintain good relationships.
Overall, the key to integrating networking into your business plan is to make it a consistent and strategic part of your business activities. By setting clear goals, allocating time and resources, identifying your target audience, utilizing different channels, and following up and following through, you can effectively leverage your network to support the growth and success of your business.
What has changed in networking since COVID and global digitization, tell us more about some of the most productive trends and what to look out for?
Since 2020, we’ve seen a notable rise in hybrid and remote work models. Just to put it in perspective, offices in 10 major areas in New York are 50% capacity since the pandemic. For some, these new work models are seen as a blessing, spending more time with family, whilst for others, it has created a craving to socialize and feel connected, beyond a screen. The situation has given rise to new trends including:
1) Increased use of digital platforms: This includes virtual meetings, webinars and more use of social media platforms such as LinkedIn. Some companies are beginning to test new platforms like interactive digital office solutions and virtual reality meetings.
2) Remote work: The shift towards remote work has made it more challenging to build and maintain in-person connections. However, it has also opened up new opportunities for digital networking, such as through online groups and communities related to specific industries and interests.
3) New networking events: In response to the pandemic, companies are actively looking for ways to maintain intracompany ties, retain organizational culture, and encourage the sharing of knowledge and ideas. Many organizations and individuals have started hosting virtual networking events, such as online workshops, panels, or social hours. In a recent survey we carried out, participants highlighted new ideas including online video games.
4) Importance of networking skills: with fewer opportunities for in-person networking, it’s more important than ever to have strong networking skills and to be able to build relationships and make connections online. This includes being able to communicate effectively, build rapport, and follow up with contacts.
We have designed Covve to help you fine-tune your skills and better connect in this new increasingly challenging networking environment.
What are you currently working on at Covve, any available opportunities for investors and partnerships? Do you have more information for our readers?
We are currently focused on partnering with companies to use our tools as part of their digitization offering. We are also partnering with industry experts to better serve the specific networking needs of their sector.
On the product front, we are working closely with our most engaged users and corporate clients to evolve our products and continue to provide the best relationship management experience. This includes frequent updates to our existing products, as well as the development of new products in the networking domain such as Covve Events, which we launched at a large event in September supercharging networking amongst participants.
Our ecosystem of apps is already trusted by market leaders across the world including Delta Air Lines, PwC, Nokia and many others. Our aim is to keep empowering professionals in building and managing their networks of contacts, in the best possible way.