Dubbed a “networking machine” by other dealmakers, Karin Kovacic estimates she has amassed about 20,000 contacts since she began her involvement with ACG about 10 years ago. She used a customer relationship management tool to track them, and makes sure she stays in close contact with about 100 people, reaching out to others on an annual, semi-annual or quarterly basis. She also tries to add value to her relationships by helping to make introductions or otherwise “paying it forward.”
“You never know when anyone or anything is going to end up leading to business,” Kovacic says. “When you meet people you like and you respect, who are smart, then you tend to want to do business with people you form relationships with.”
In her work heading up business development and deal origination for Alcentra, which she joined in 2012, she works on a broad range of investing, from unitranche lending to equity co-investments. Some deals that Karin originated for the firm include: ACT Lighting, a lighting distributor, a debt and preferred equity transaction with an independent sponsor; A2Z Wireless, a debt transaction of a Verizon retailer with Atlantic Street Capital; and DBi Services, an infrastructure services company, in a deal directly with the entrepreneurs where her firm invested debt and preferred equity.
“There isn’t really a box, which has been really fun. Because every deal looks very different, and depending on if there is a private equity sponsor or an independent sponsor or if it’s directly with an entrepreneur, you’re trying to all sit around the table and structure the deal as conservatively, yet flexible, for the next two to three years out,” she says.
The biggest challenge of her work is the competition, and because her firm’s money isn’t any greener than the competitors, networking and relationship management is a key to maintaining a top-of-mind position and staying out in front of people.