Wayne Kimmel | Crain's

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Wayne Kimmel

Background:  

SeventySix Capital is a venture capital and private equity firm that has funded several successful startups, including the diet program Nutrisystem, the online takeout ordering system Seamless (acquired by Aramark) and the Take Care Health Systems clinics (acquired by Walgreens).

The Mistake:

My first job was as a personal injury lawyer. It was the mid-'90s, and this Internet thing was happening. It was like the Wild West. How was I going to break into this startup community as a 29-year-old? How was I going to raise money? I had to find a way to get into it.

I learned how from a great mentor of mine (startup legal expert Stephen M. Goodman at Morgan Lewis), who was the lawyer for most of the startup companies in Philadelphia. He said that to be a successful businessperson, you've got to meet a lot of people. Now he jokes that he didn't mean that you have to meet everyone in the business.

You can get someone's business card, but how do you make the connection?​

Anyway, I looked for the kinds of places they hang out, and where they go, etc. You can get someone's business card, but how do you make the connection?

The Lesson:

Now, I'm good at it. It comes down to, "How can I help others?" Is it that I sit on the board of a hospital and I can help them with a health issue, or help them more directly, getting one of their kids an internship? I'm now writing a book about networking.

Follow Wayne Kimmel on Twitter at @waynekimmel.