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Gravitas' Lisa Sun: How to take your networking skills to the next level

Remember, a professional network isn’t just an entity used for calling in favors, it’s also for giving back.
Project Gravitas CEO Lisa Sun.
Project Gravitas CEO Lisa Sun.Courtesy of Project Gravitas

When Lisa Sun launched her fashion company Gravitas in 2012, she relied on her vast network to take her business to the next level.

During a recent interview, “Morning Joe” co-host and Know Your Value founder Mika Brzezinski tipped her hat to Sun’s impressive networking skills.

“You are really good at connecting,” Brzezinski said. “You're connecting with everybody. You use that to really develop your brand and develop your relationships, and that's really the key in many ways to ultimate success.”

Sun credited her mother, a Taiwanese immigrant, who was also a great networker. She taught Sun to look outside of her circle and to always be kind.

“You never know when karma is going to come back,” Sun said.

Here are three tips from Sun on building and maintaining a strong network.

1. Give and take from the network.

A professional network isn’t just an entity used for calling in favors, it’s also for giving back.

Sun said a mentor used to tell her: “The network is only as strong in as much as you give and take from it.”

Not only does giving feel good, said Sun, but when you need something at a later point in time, people in your network will want to help you.

“There's a virtuous cycle that happens in the network,” said Sun.

2. Don’t be jealous.

Being jealous might hold you back from giving to your network, according to Sun. For example, you might not want your contacts to become too close for fear of missing out. A good networker, however, is never jealous of other peoples’ success.

“I'm never envious or jealous,” Sun said. “I hope my friends are better friends with each other than they are with me. I'm just really happy when it works out.”

3. Be a good matchmaker.

Sun loves matchmaking, and she told Brzezinski that she’s very good at it.

“Someone will say: ‘I've got this issue I'm dealing with.’ I'll take a day or so and say: ‘I know exactly who to connect you with,’ and I just put them together.”

Sun recalled a story where she connected two of her investors over text message. One of them is now the chief operating officer of the other’s company.

“I didn’t know what would happen, and six months later they both are like: we are so happy that we're in business together,” said Sun.