Many of my invite-only gatherings aren't for the faint of heart. From zero-gravity flights to road rallies featuring exotic cars or even sabering champagne bottles, these events demand something different from attendees -- and that is intentional.
In business and beyond, I've found myself to be a "catalyst" at creating collisions of smart people and bright ideas. I help co-create unique platforms to connect the select individuals who can help each other. In fact, one of my companies is a global network of successful entrepreneurs, Maverick1000, designed from the ground up just for this reason.
The idea for this sort of high-level "networking" may have initially happened accidentally, but it's something I believe many other entrepreneurs can consciously take advantage of to become the hub of activity and grow their business networks organically. These days, it's not enough to just hold a dinner or event, so I make it a point to add experiential elements. Doing so creates stronger bonds, adds a fun element people don’t regularly experience, and gets them talking. Besides, it's hard for someone to avoid bragging a little about a dinner where they were spinning fire on a beach in Maui – or on an excursion with Sir Richard Branson on his private island!
Here are a few ways to turn yourself into an authentic connector who is valuable to anyone's network:
- Don't hog the spotlight. Connectors understand the necessity of creating value for others. If you want to be in the middle of the action, you must seek ways to enhance the lives of those surrounding you. The best connectors I know are extremely generous with introductions where they make sense. One of my favorite questions is, "What are you most excited about right now?" From that answer, I know who I can hook that person up with.
- Be valuable. People value connectors for what they provide in terms of interaction and resource. In some cases, it's because they create a space to bring together an elite group. And the person who is that "hub" is remembered when business deals are coming together. After all, how did these people get to the table in the first place? I'm always getting notes back or hearing from attendees of my seminar about deals they've created. Sometimes, they give me credit when I didn't directly introduce them.
- Be calendar-worthy. Everyone already has too much on their plates AND their calendars, so why should they attend or be part of something you create? Anyone can start meetup groups, dinner meetings, or curated events, but it takes some creative energy to make the event worth attending. Once you have people’s attention, you can stop networking and truly start connecting.
- Let loose. This connectivity needs to be genuine and fun -- I may or may not have been known to don a green Speedo or dress up as a circus ringleader on occasion. However, that might not work for everyone. The appeal is in the authenticity of the fun, so it's important to find your natural personality and allow it come through in your dealings.
- Play mediator. I work with many entrepreneurs with Type A personalities, so there’s inevitably some jockeying for top positions. When facilitating at a session, there’s a fine line between guaranteeing that everyone offers input and knowing when someone needs to be dialed down. If a situation requires you to step up, it’s best to start with humor and work toward a more direct approach when "calling someone out." If one of the members takes too long with the microphone, I might hit a gong or shoot the person with a Nerf gun. He gets the point, and the crowd gets a laugh.
Yanik Silver is a serial entrepreneur who has successfully bootstrapped 8 different product and service ideas hitting the million-dollar sales mark from scratch without funding, taking on debt or even having a real business plan. He founded the Underground Online Seminar® and Maverick1000, a global network of game-changing entrepreneurs, and also authored several best-selling marketing books and tools.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.