I love meeting new people. I’ve always done a good job with the initial skills involved with meeting new people. I feel like I can meet anyone in the world that I want to. Whether I make use of that meeting is another story (I’ll expand on the importance of following up later).
You build a network by: Introducing people to others who can provide value for them. Make sure it’s “permission networking” (you get permission from both sides first. Otherwise, you are a burden and not a help). Introducing people to ideas without any expectation of receiving something back. This means you have to get good at coming up with ideas. Finding a meaningful connection between you and the other person. A connection that person might value. Lewis Howes contacted many former athletes. Sometimes people use their hometowns or schools. Sometimes people use mutual friends, etc.
Eight Skills You Need to Become a Super-Connector
1. Introduce two other connectors. If you can introduce two people who are themselves great connectors, then you become a meta-connector. They will meet and get along, since connectors get along with one another for two reasons: they are naturally friendly people (hence their ability to connect so easily with people) and they have a lot of friends in common almost by definition.
2. Introduce two people, but this time with a specific idea in mind. Marsha, meet Cindy. Cindy, meet Marsha. Marsha, you are the best book editor in the world. Cindy, your book is the best book idea I have ever heard. You both can make money together. No need to “cc” me. If you can help two other people make money, then eventually good things will happen to you. In a few cases, I’ve been able to do this. They’re rare, but it’s happened.
3. Host a dinner of interesting people. I’ve only done this twice. When the last Star Wars prequel came out I invited people from every aspect of my life (friends, hedge fund investors, writers) to a dinner, I got everyone movie tickets, and it was a fun night. I solidified my relationships with some of my investors, plus some of the funds I was invested in, and I managed to connect people who later did business together.
4. Follow up. This is the hardest part for me. I have a five-year-old list of people who introduced me to people I actually wanted to be introduced to and then I never followed up. For instance, a few months ago I wrote a post called “Burton Silverman, are you dead yet??” Burton Silverman is one of my favorite artists. I wanted to know if he was dead to see if the value of one of his paintings had gone up. He wrote me to tell me he wasn’t dead yet. And as I type this, his studio is only a few blocks away. I could visit him right now if I want. Except for some reason I never returned his e-mail. He’s on my list. But following up is the hardest part for me. Then I put it off until I start to feel guilty about not following up. So then I push back the follow-up even more.
5. Reestablish contact. The other day I was following my own advice. I wrote an e-mail to an ex-investor of mine from 2004, saying sincerely how grateful I was he invested with me and I always enjoyed his advice and friendship. He immediately wrote back (because, unlike me, he’s a good connector and businessman) and said, “What are you up to? Here’s what I’m doing. Maybe we can work together again.” This was six years after I’d last spoken to him.
6. Show up. I don’t know which rule on this list is the most valuable. But if a good connector invites you to a dinner or a meeting, then the best thing you can do is show up.
7. Interview people. Back to Michael Ellsberg, who did something genius. He figured he wanted to meet a lot of successful people, sort of the way Napoleon Hill did when he wrote his famous best-seller Think and Grow Rich. So Ellsberg got himself a book deal about how millionaires are educated and then, book deal in hand, he interviewed as many millionaires and billionaires as he could find. The guy is now a mega-connector. When I met him a few weeks ago, he had nonstop ideas about how one goes about meeting people.
8. Produce something of value. In order to connect two people, you must have people to connect. You have to meet them in the first place, and the best way to do that is to produce something of value. I tell a story where I describe how when I was broke and about to go homeless I tried a technique of just reaching out to people. I would write letters like, “Hey, would love to meet.” Unfortunately, that never worked. People are busy. Nobody wanted to meet some random guy like me.
So instead I tried a new technique. I would spend time researching the business of each person I wanted to meet and come up with ten ideas to help them that I would give them completely for free. I gave one guy, Jim Cramer, ten article ideas he should write. He ultimately wrote back, “You should write these”—which started my financial writing career. It also led to a habit of exchanging ideas with people at TheStreet that ultimately led to me selling Stockpickr to them. Another guy to whom I gave several trading system ideas ultimately allocated money for me to trade. This started my hedge fund trading career. Once I started concentrating on producing something of value—without worrying about what I would get out of it—it started coming back to me. Pretty amazing, huh?
The Choose Yourself Guide To Wealth
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“We all are learning, modifying, or destroying ideas all the time. Rapid destruction of your ideas when the time is right is one of the most valuable qualities you can acquire. You must force yourself to consider arguments on the other side.
— Charles T. Munger”
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