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How Reverting to 'Old School' Ways Helped Me Build Strategic Relationships

Demetri Argyropoulos, CEO of Avant Global

When I was in college, I was eager and hungry to make connections. At 21 years old, as a dorm resident at Westmont College, I founded my business advisory firm, Avant Global. The company has since grown into a global business with well-known, successful clients, including the founding family of the world's largest brick-and-mortar retailer, and one of the largest holding companies in the world.

I credit this to many things, including the people I've surrounded myself with along the way. But I've realized that many of the same tactics and techniques I used on campus in my early dealings are still relevant today. Though technology has paved the way for quicker and more efficient communication, going back to old school ways can help you progress in the competitive business world.

Pick up the phone

My company helps high-profile clients build strategic relationships that drive company growth, investments, funding and more. There are many make-or-break details involved in the day-to-day business within our ecosystem. Email chains and group texts between business associates might be convenient, but calling to speak with colleagues is more effective than a "reply all" exchange.

This is especially true when you've got a global business that's building bridges between Silicon Valley and executives, investors and even successors across the globe. With clients and partners in countries ranging from the Philippines to the United Kingdom, I've learned that the voice lends a human connection that a computer screen cannot compete with.

Write it down

I'm on the road, and often out of the country, much of the year. A digital calendar and iPhone notes just don't cut it sometimes. For many, including myself, taking handwritten notes can help to retain information. It’s also valuable to print itineraries and organize them in folders. You never know when a phone battery will die, or a signal will be lost.

Think outside the boardroom

Deeper connections can be made when you're thinking out of the box and meeting outside of the office or conference call. I've found that nurturing relationships with clients by welcoming them to your home or out for coffee can be valuable to all parties, especially when "shop talk" is off the record.

I often host groups that integrate both personal and professional relationships; you can take a hike, offer a feast or go to lunch with business partners or potential clients. Deeper connections are made when you go beyond the white lights of a corporate space.

Get back to your roots

Digging into your roots and acknowledging your heritage can be fruitful on both a personal and professional level. As a Greek-American, I have a community of support domestically and globally that is bound by a cultural thread. Many of my personal contacts are also passionate about philanthropy, investing and other areas I'm immersed in.

It's through these groups that I could connect Amed Khan, a young, successful investment banker who has been building refugee camps for displaced Syrians in Greece, with an influential Greek-Orthodox priest, Father Alex Karloutsos of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (Father Alex has offices in New York City and conducts liturgies at the Greek Orthodox Church of the Hamptons in Long Island). Father Alex then introduced Khan to a Bishop in Athens who helped Khan to navigate the country's bureaucracy. Khan's Elpida Home has since become more successful, hosting hundreds of refugees who otherwise would have no roof over their heads.

These types of unique connections happen when you find ways to relate on a more personal and engaging level that goes beyond a glass sscreen. By reverting to “old school” tactics, you too can have a competitive edge in building and nurturing strategic relationships. 

About the author: Demetri Argyropoulos is the Chief Executive Officer of Avant Global, where he leads strategy, performance, implementation and corporate governance of Avant Global. Since founding Avant Global, Demetri and his partners have been involved in forging relationships, creating opportunities, and generating over $10 billion in value creation across a range of projects and businesses. He has been the catalyst for successfully originating, co-founding, or seeding over 50 new companies. 

Image Credit: Demetri Argyropoulos