In startup circles, there is a classic blog post by Mark Suster titled, “Invest in Lines, Not Dots.”
Mark is a venture capitalist based in Los Angeles. His point is pretty simple to understand: When mapped on a graph measuring your company performance over time, a single data point doesn’t tell enough of a story for him to make an investment.
But once he has more data points, he can start to draw a line…and that’s what will get him interested in investing. From his post:
It makes a lot of sense, and people in the startup world started to understand that if you wanted someone to invest in your company, you needed to start building relationships with them early and update them pretty regularly.
But I don’t think this metaphor is taken far enough for you and me.
I think people invest their time, attention, interest, and affection in lines — not dots.
This is why “networking” isn’t enough. Networking will put a (brief) dot on someone’s chart — it can be a starting point. But that doesn’t count for much.
Relationships are built on lines. Replace the “Y” axis with anything you want: trust, kindness, reliability, generosity, humility, productivity…
If you’re erratic or inconsistent, you aren’t building a very strong line. People probably won’t invest their energy in you.
Like it or not, your line is the belief people have in you — it’s your brand.
If you’re wondering why people don’t take you seriously, give you a chance, or blow you off…look at your line of behavior. If someone has burned YOU in the past, look at their line of behavior.
Are you making good investments?
Are you proving yourself to be a good investment?