Domenic Graziosi took over as the Relationship Science CEO in mid-2016. During his tenure the company has launched a consumer-facing offering, incorporated business contact information into the platform, and continued to grow relationships with key institutional clients. I sat down for a CEO interview with Domenic to discuss business networking, the role of CEO, and his outlook on the company.
Joshua Harrison: Relationship Science’s goal is to help users leverage their relationships to achieve business success. Where do your passion and drive for business relationships and networking come from?
Domenic Graziosi, Relationship Science CEO: A lot of my passion for this business comes from my personal experience. I think you start to realize as soon as you graduate and start your career that knowing the right person is critical to your professional advancement. It’s been my experience that knowing someone helps significantly, whether you’re trying to secure a job interview, get an introduction to a potential client, or gain the confidence you need to be successful in a new role. Understanding who knows who helps tremendously in both your personal and corporate life. A lot of young professionals don’t immediately recognize this. But once you realize how important your relationships are and start leveraging that fact, impressive things happen.
I’m also driven by the feedback we get from clients about how RelSci has helped them. We receive testimonials saying that, “Leveraging RelSci, I closed a deal which paid for your service ten times over” or “I identified my biggest prospect to date by using RelSci to discover an unknown connection in my network.” Hearing those stories is just magical. It motivates me and gets me out of bed in the morning.
As Relationship Science CEO Graziosi highlights in this interview, understanding how to leverage relationships is key to effectively growing social capital. At RelSci, we’re committed to helping our clients make the most out of the platform. Enterprise customers receive custom onboarding sessions, dedicated account managers, and webinars that highlight how-tos and common use cases. Explore our Resource Center or Youtube Channel to learn more about how RelSci helps you maximize the value of your network.
JH: Which RelSci tools do you personally use the most?
DG: 360° Alerts is number one. I read the email every day to see which of my contacts are in the news. It’s extremely valuable in terms of knowing when to reach out.
I also frequently look people up to see who they know. I like uncovering unexpected connections. Even at a small company like RelSci, it’s very difficult to know everyone your colleagues can connect to. Just imagine what it’s like in a big organization! Of course I use this feature a lot for business reasons as Relationship Science CEO, but I’ll also have some fun with it. Whenever I’m with friends and an individual’s name comes up, we always look them in RelSci.
Just last night, I was with my daughter and her friends. One friend was discussing her father, and they actually decided to look him up in RelSci. It turns out that we have a detailed profile and someone at our company actually knows him! I find that so interesting – it’s something you’d never be able to discover if it weren’t for our product.
RelSci 360° Alerts, a favorite tool of our senior executive clients, allows users to stay informed on the people and organizations they care about. It combines curated news from over 200 subscription sources with customized headlines generated from changes in RelSci data. Users receive a daily intelligence report that enables them to reach out to connections at exactly the right time.
JH: Which RelSci achievement are you most proud of so far?
DG: I’m probably most proud of the data and technology that support our platform. The effort involved to create a product like RelSci isn’t always obvious from the outside. But I’ve been in the data world since college, and I understand what it takes to build a data operation. RelSci’s whole framework is impressive, including the technology stack and automation routines we’ve created to aggregate and structure data. In the past few years we’ve grown the database from 2 million to 8 million person profiles, and made our data collection technology significantly more efficient in the process.
I’ve had the opportunity to work with some wonderful and brilliant people in my time at RelSci. I’ve seen all the pieces come together into an institution-grade product that’s now used by some of the largest banks in the world. I’m proud to have been a part of that and proud of the team that made it happen.
While most RelSci clients see only our front-end platform, we’ve been working behind-the-scenes since 2010 to build up the database and algorithms that support it. RelSci now includes over 8 million people and 1.5 million organizations. Dedicated researchers work alongside machine intelligence to ensure institution-grade data quality across the platform.
JH: What has surprised you most during your tenure as CEO?
DG: A couple of things come to mind. First, there’s a certain degree to which people react differently when they know you’re the CEO. Whether it’s on a call or in a meeting, the person you’re interacting with knows you’re the ultimate decision maker. So they gravitate towards you, and often focus on convincing you to buy the product they’re selling or enter into a partnership with them. I understand it all from their viewpoint – at RelSci we sell to senior executives and often find ourselves trying to persuade CEOs – but it’s still a little surprising to experience it firsthand.
Second, there’s a large volume of quick decisions I need to make on a daily basis. In some areas I have expertise based on my background, but other departments are newer to me. To make sure I’m making the best decisions I can, I take the approach of talking less and listening more. I like to sit back and listen to everyone’s views to learn as much as possible before making an educated decision.
Earlier in this interview, Relationship Science CEO Graziosi mentioned that he comes from a data operations background. RelSci’s database includes over 350,000 current and former CEOs with a range of backgrounds. Explore further by using Power Search to identify CEOs in your industry of interest.
JH: Over the past 15-20 years, online relationships have drastically increased in prominence. Do you envision a time when they’ll more important than face-to-face interaction?
DG: I don’t think they’ll ever be more important. I don’t see online relationships as an alternative to face-to-face interaction. Instead, I think technology helps us understand and organize our relationships in a way that improves real-world interaction. In the context of business development, using an online tool allows people to identify the relationships where an in-person interaction will make a difference. That’s the idea RelSci is built on. We give you the intelligence you need to make a high-level meeting happen. Then you take things offline to seal the deal. We’ve found that the larger the stakes, the more likely that an in-person meeting is necessary to move the deal forward.
Note: CEO interview questions responses were edited for concision and clarity.