» How to really network like the rich and powerful

Hi everyone,

As promised, here is a short guide on how multimillionaires and powerful people use a different type of networking to create opportunities and how use can use that same style to create opportunities for yourself. Sorry it took so long, I know some people were waiting for this. If you want to read more stuff on how the people in Hollywood network or how the rich and powerful network, check out my other posts.

Why Networking is so Important

A friend of mine had a great observation that a lot of people aren’t aware of the importance of networking. Basically, the “WHY?” of networking.

‘Why is it so important?’

So, for the past week, I’ve been thinking about how I can communicate this clearly (which is why this post is delayed – sorry). And this is what I’ve come up with: Opportunity always comes from other people.

Everything that happens to you as an entrepreneur, you get a huge deal, you find mentors, you meet investors, VCs, a huge joint venture, all of these opportunities depend on other people and quality of your relationship with them.

You can have all the skill in the world. You can work 80 hours a week. Your company could be the next big thing. But if you never get an opportunity, all that talent, hard work and potential is wasted.

Most people have no idea how to find these opportunities.

They think opportunities are random. They just sit there, waiting for opportunity to knock, thinking there’s nothing they can do about it. That all they have to do is to focus on their company or product and opportunity will find them. Other people go out to networking events, collect business cards, make calls and try to set up meetings.

These people are basically shooting in the dark. They know they have to go out and find opportunity, but they don’t know how or where to find it. The difference between ‘traditional networking’ and ‘rich and powerful networking’ is the difference between ‘going out into the forest, hoping to find food’ and ‘building a farm’.

The rich and powerful grow and cultivate opportunities. They have an overabundance of opportunities. They never have to go out and ‘hunt’ for it.

I’ve met so many talented and hard-working entrepreneurs across the country. All of them with amazing ideas and companies. But most of these people never get a chance, they never get their opportunity. I see them years, even decades, later still doing the same thing they did before, no progress whatsoever, still waiting for their big break, for their big opportunity.

This is what networking like the rich and the powerful is: it’s building a garden of opportunities. Planting those seeds so that when you need it, you won’t have to depend on chance.

After spending the past week thinking about the importance of opportunities and how so few people ever get them, I’ve decided to create some videos to teach the specific techniques of how to network to create opportunities (how the rich and powerful network).

My first few videos will cover the first time you meet someone and how to handle it correctly so that you don’t kill any potential opportunity from that first meeting. 98% of all people do this incorrectly. I’m going to take the next few months to write down what I know and start recording. I’m not sure where I will post these videos, if I will charge or what, but if you guys want them for free and want to stay updated on them email me at [email protected]

I will make sure that everyone on my email contact list gets the class first and free (if I even decide to charge). I’m also going to make sure that anyone from Reddit gets it for free as well. You guys have been really good to me and I want to give back to the community.

Also thinking of possibly trying to mentor some people online. Never done this before as I’ve always taught people face-to-face. So this will be a big experiment. Like I said, if you are interested in this, email me.

First, a little about me: I used to work in the corporate world. I predicted the dot.com crash back in college so my first job out of undergrad was for two VPs at a multibillion dollar international company. I was two levels away from the CEO. Went on to work for a few other multibillion dollar divisions then moved to Los Angeles to help family.

Decided to take a break, made some friends with people in the industry and started helping them with their projects (pro bono consulting). No one big at this time. Word spread and I started meeting new people and making new friends. Some of my new friends were very connected in the industry. I started learning from them a different style of networking and socializing. As I started to meet more and more powerful people in Hollywood I noticed that the “higher up” I went the more people were using this style (as opposed to the people lower down who were using the traditional style of networking that we are all taught).

Later, I had the chance to earn my MBA in a year with a full scholarship so I moved to Boston. That’s when I started making friends with angel investors, VCs and, in general, wealthy people and noticed that they used the same style of networking and socializing that Hollywood did. In general, I’ve noticed that the people who were wealthier and more powerful tend to use this system.

For most people, this style of networking and socializing is learned over decades of trial and error. Which is why it’s primarily used by the rich and the powerful: they were the ones who put decades of practiceinto it. The other types of people who know this type of socializing and networking are the children who were born into these families. I’ve known children of the very wealthy and very powerful across the country who are very good at this (there are exceptions, though, as you can gather from the news).

It’s helped me, not just professionally but personally as well (it’s the reason I met most of my friends and, most importantly, my wife). I’ve taught it to others (I was a business consultant, some business owners needed help networking and socializing) and it’s helped them professionally and personally as well.

Typically, I teach this to people in-person. I take them out to events like Hollywood parties or fashion shows or mingling events with wealthy people and I work with them face-to-face. Because of this I’m able to customize how they learn. This is usually over a period of months. I can’t do that here so instead what I’ll do is give some general tips on how wealthy and powerful people network as well as some specific info on wealthy people.
Before we get into how to network and socialize like the top people do, there are some foundational things I want to set up.

First thing I want to say is that this is not some magic technique, trick or social hack to persuade people to get your way. This a method of networking and socializing that took the wealthy and the powerful decades to figure out. The sad truth is that networking and socializing is just as complex as leadership and strategy. We devote courses and majors to those subjects but the most networking gets is maybe a book here or there or just an article that says the same old advice that is really sales, not networking.

The stuff I’m showing you here is the same stuff that typically takes people decades of trial and error to figure out. I was just lucky to learn it early. Networking and socializing does not replace hard work and dedication. I said earlier how talent and hardwork is wasted if there is never any opportunity to use it. At the same time, without talent and hard work, you’ll never do anything with those opportunities.

Networking and socializing like the rich and like how the top people in LA do it will just give you the same opportunities that they get. However, whether you take advantage of those opportunities and what you do with them is up to you. Very important: never use people.

Never try to con people or try to get their money. I’ve seen some people use unsavory tactics to get ahead in life. And they do get an early headstart because of it. However, I never met anyone at the top who was like this. Why? You can only get to a certain level working by yourself. There’s a point where you need to work with others in order to break through to the next level. And if you’ve been using people or conning them, then by the time you reach that level you will have built up a bad reputation that will keep you from the top levels.

The wealthy and the powerful are smart. They didn’t get to where they are by being poor judges of character. And the thing they value most of all is personal trust. Violate that and you will lose everything. I’ve seen people who were at the top of their game lose everything because they did something untrustworthy or stabbed someone in the back.

As you socialize with more and more people at higher levels it becomes your RESPONSIBILITY to protect their privacy. It is basically your job to be a gatekeeper for them and vet anyone you introduce to them. It goes both ways: they will do the same for you.

For instance, as I started meeting higher up people in LA and bringing some of my friends to exclusive parties they would tell some of their friends about the people I knew and was hanging out with. I would then get random head shots, scripts and pitches sent to my email. I had to ask my friends to stop talking about me or who I knew. As for the people who pitched me out of nowhere, I blocked them. Their approach was completely wrong as I’ll explain later. Don’t name the names of your friends and don’t give away their contact info. Respect their privacy. Don’t believe in the stereotypes of the wealthy. Most depictions of wealthy people are that they are racist, selfish, snobby and that their children are lazy and only want to party. None of this is true.

The only people who believe this are people who never met a multimillionaire or multibillionaire in their life. Most of the wealthy people out there are self-made. They worked hard to achieve their dreams. They are not racist. These people are well-travelled. They love other cultures and other people. Many of them have multi-racial and multicultural families. They are also not selfish. They take charity work very seriously. And not only give their money to causes, but also their blood, sweat and tears.

I remember one young woman. She grew up a NY socialite from a very prominent family. Here she was in a small town, putting together party favors in 90 degree weather for hours while sick and in pain. She did it because she cared about children who had grown too old and aged out of the foster care system. Every month she would bring gift bags of toiletries to the homeless that she would put together despite her condition (her sickness was chronic). She isn’t the exemption, either. She’s the rule. I have never seen people give as much, not just money but in time and hard work and sweat and tears, as I have seen the wealthy give. Never.

How to network the way the wealthy and top people do

As I said, I can’t customize this to each person (I’d need to see you in action to do that) and I can’t get too much into details of specific techniques because then this would end up the size of a few books instead of a post. I mean, this post is already long and I’ve only covered the prerequisites.

Wealthy and top people don’t network or socialize for business. They network and socialize to make friends. You have to realize that these people already have enough business. Instead, they are looking to make deals. But not deals with just anyone, deals with people they trust. Who are the people they trust the most? Their close friends. That’s why you see so many wealthy and powerful people doing business with their friends over and over again. It’s not because they won’t let anyone else in. It’s because these are the people who took the time to nurture a friendship instead of trying to jump into business right away.

When you first meet someone don’t talk business. Talk to make friends. Talk about your interests, hobbies. Find out what their interests and hobbies are. I became friends with one person by talking video games. We ended up playing Rock Band together. Later on, a couple years later he asked me to be on the board of one of his companies.

Sometimes the slow way is the fastest way.

When I was in grad school and we were near graduating a lot of my friends were worried about getting jobs and networking. I told them to network by making friends (how multimillionaires do it). They said they didn’t have time for that and that they needed to find a job immediately.

A year or two after graduation they had still not found a job they wanted and I was hanging out with multimillionaires and getting offers that if I ever wanted to start a company they would invest in me. My classmates thought that making friends was too slow and had no purpose. They didn’t have years to network. They were too busy for that. But with wealthy people across the country (and in Hollywood), business is done with friends. With people who took the time to foster true friendships over years.

Be genuine. I know I said this before. But I want to stress this. Your friendship has to be genuine. These people didn’t get to where they are by being stupid. They’ll know if you are just trying to sweet talk them and pretend to be friends. A lukewarm genuine friendship is stronger than a warm fake friendship. They will know. And you will get a bad reputation.
As your friendship becomes stronger, it’ll just be natural to start talking business and projects. It’ll start by them asking you for advice on their projects. This is a sign that you can both start asking each other for advice (not for help). After this happens for a while it’ll naturally progress further. Again, it may seem slow at the beginning but in the long run, it’ll be the shorter route.

Always be a good friend, even if you don’t need them anymore. Word will spread if you were just friends with someone to get to their friends or contacts and, not only is this a horrible thing to do, but you will be blacklisted Make friends with everyone. If you are just targeting the wealthy or powerful and ignoring people you think can’t help you or are below you, not only will you miss out on an wonderful part of life, but people will find out that you do this and you will be blacklisted. Don’t feel you have to chase every opportunity. Some people feel like they will lose it on their opportunity if they don’t get that person’s contact info right away. So they try to get their info so that they can pitch them or suggest hanging out. People see through this and it’s desperate.

As you practice this method more and more and continually meet new people you will realize (or create) that there is an abundance of opportunity. Sometimes one of the best things to do is to just have a good talk and leave a good impression for next time. Don’t trade contact info. When you next meet that person they will remember what an interesting person you were (and also give you points for not being desperate) and your chance of becoming friends goes up.

I had a friend who ran the production company of an A-list actor. She and I kept running into each other at parties and talking about art. After a while I told her about a cool little place in Venice where writers get together and we made plans to go check it out. She is one of my closest friends and to this day I call her my big sister.

Do favors. Don’t charge your friends.

I did a lot of favors for my friends. I never charged them. I worked on their projects, I did consulting work for them. I never charged. They were my buddies. They didn’t charge me either when they worked on my projects.

I remember on day, sitting at a table on one of my projects with several of my friends who were helping me out. This wasn’t a small project either and these people were seriously big. I remember sitting at the table as we were brainstorming and realizing that if I had to pay these people what they regularly make, I’d owe them several million dollars.

Once you charge a friend for work you do for them, your relationship automatically goes from “friendship” to “business” and it’s hard to re-earn that trust you lost. Now, that said, just because you shouldn’t charge your friends for work you do, doesn’t mean you guys can’t partner up and make money together. And, in fact, this is what happens a lot: you’ll start to create projects together and do deals like this.

Never, ever, in any circumstance, ask to be introduced to your friend’s contacts. This will mark you as a “user” – someone who only created that friendship so that you can get to their contacts. You could be blacklisted by that person for doing this.

This applies to powerful people, wealthy people and people in Hollywood: never ask for their contacts or for them to introduce you to one of their friends. I know this is common in traditional networking, but with the powerful and wealthy it’s frowned upon.

If they want to, they will take the initiative and introduce you to their friends or people they think could help you. I know one person who barely avoided being blacklisted from some very wealthy circles. A few people were convinced that he was only friends with one person because she had so many wealthy contacts. Had he ever mentioned or asked to meet someone they would have locked him out. Luckily, he was more trustworthy than that and he never did.

Another person I know went behind the back of their friend to meet his friend’s contact. He was blacklisted not just from them, but from the whole community. Word spreads and new people avoided him. Cold calling people asking for help is sales. And just like sales, your chance for success are low (sales is a number game, after all).

If you have to reach out cold, make it personal. Be nice. Be a friend. If I see an article I like, I will reach out to the author and email them that I loved their work and complement them. When you cold call someone and try to sell rather than trying to start a relationship, you get stereotyped as “business”.

And, as we said previously, switching from “business” to “friend” is very hard to do. That said, I have had people cold call me successfully and I have done the same. The people who contacted me cold that were the most successful were the ones who reached out as a friend and low key. But face to face is always the best way to meet someone and foster a friendship. Never treat these people anything other than regular people. Don’t be a fan and gush about how amazing they are. Sure, it’s flattering, but they’ll never be friends with you. They may, if you’re nice, meet up once or twice to mentor you, but you’ll never get invited into their homes nor will you ever be close friends with them.

The constant flattery means you aren’t familiar with these types of people and have no idea how to act around these people. You could also be a stalker or a user. This applies to the wealthy, the powerful and the famous.

Questions and Answers

Q: Someone asked, “how do you find opportunities to meet significant types of people?”

A: these type of opportunities are all around you. I met the publicist to one of the biggest rock bands in history at Barnes and Nobles. We talked about horror movies before deciding to hang out. When we did and I asked what she did, she told me about the band. I asked her what she liked about PR. I met one of the biggest entrepreneurs in the country getting my hair cut. No one ever recognizes him, nor would they unless they live in very wealthy circles. But yeah, friendliest guy ever. The thing is the wealthy and the powerful aren’t some kind of mysterious species that live in some hidden ecosystem. These people go to the same places as you and me: Barnes and Nobles, Apple Store, the mall, Panera, Target. Not Walmart, though. As much as I love Walmart they’re never there. If you aren’t finding these type of people or opportunities the problem isn’t where you are, it’s that you aren’t talking to people when you go places. One of the most useful skills I learned was how to just talk and make friends with anyone wherever I am. I’ve met all of my wealthy, powerful and famous friends like that. As well as my poor, not powerful and definitely not famous friends.

Q: How do you get your foot in the door? What do rich and powerful people want to see from you?

A: this is traditional style networking type thinking. “What value are they looking for?”, “What can I offer them?” When you are just making friends with people none of this matters. I’ve been to some of the most exclusive places. All because I just made friend with people. Friendship is valuable to everyone, whether you are rich, poor, powerful or a nobody. Now, there are specific techniques that the rich and powerful use to foster close friendships. There are phases to meeting, rules, etc. it’s too complex to get into here but I will cover them in the videos. Like I said, I’ll update anyone who is interested through my email.

Q: What’s the trade-off between spending time and effort networking with powerful people versus networking with peers, some of whom might eventually become rich and powerful people?

A: this is a really great question. As I said earlier, you should be networking with everyone. Those above you, below you and your peers. You should be making friends with all of these people. They all offer advantages and you should never just focus on one or another. Network and socialize with all of them.

Q: What are common mistakes?

A: There are a lot. Too many to cover in this small post. I covered some earlier in the post. I’ll cover more in the videos.

Q: How long did it take you to develop this skill (to various stages of development or comfort)? What was your starting point?

A: another great question. It took me over a decade to get to where I am today. I started making friends with people successfully after about a year to two years after I started practicing regularly. I’m better today than I was when I only did it for two years. You continually improve. It never stops. Everyone who knows me personally may find what I’m about to say funny, but I still consider myself a student. I am always learning. Always adding. My starting point was that I used to be a very introverted person who hated parties and never spoke to strangers. I liked hanging out with my close friends and in one-on-one settings. However, the beauty of this networking technique is that it works equally well for introverts as it does extroverts. My wife grew up a socialite. She thinks I’m lying whenever I tell her I used to be an introverted geek as do most of my new friends. I didn’t have to do anything I felt was fake. In fact, I feel I’m being more genuine when I network like this. I will admit the first two years were brutal. A lot of trial and even more error. I made a lot of mistakes. It’s just like learning a new sport or becoming good at it: you have to miss a lot of shots and lose a lot of games. Oh, also, I’m not into sports or cars. Never was and I’m still not. Luckily, I didn’t need to be when using this type of networking. If you like video games bond over that. Poetry? Then make friends with that. One my friends in Hollywood introduced me to and is friends with all the top people in the industry. He and I used to hang out and talk about ancient history. That’s what we liked. The only problem is if you are extroverted: you have to unlearn some things that may have become natural for you. It’s like you’ve been swinging wrong your whole life and have to learn a new way to swing. For introverts, you have to put in the effort. It’s hard work, but it’s worth it. I’ve done some amazing things, gone amazing places, met amazing people and, most of all, met the most wonderful person in the world because of it: my wife.

Q: I’d like to know how someone who is nervous of meeting new people and awful with small talk can network effectively.

A: I’ll cover this technique in the videos, but the gist of it is: bond over the things you both like. Discover if you guys have things in common and bond over those. Also, remember that as nervous as you are, there are people who are just as or more nervous than you. Go help them out. I used to be like this: nervous of meeting new people and making small talk. I never knew what to talk about. Now I know how to captivate groups and it come second nature. Networking and socializing are fixed traits that you are born with (like height or eye color). They are skills that can be improved if you are willing to put in the hard work. If not, I can’t help you. I remember one woman who ran a salon. She refused to learn how to do financials. I kept telling her how easy it was and how I used to hate it until I put in the effort. She still didn’t want to and lost her business. In her mind it was a fixed trait that she could never change. So she never did. For me, I thought I could change it, and I did.

I really hope this post helps a lot of you. If you have any questions please feel free to reach out. And email me on your progress as well! I want to know how you guys are doing! Always love meeting new people. I’m retired now from consulting but I always love hearing from people.

Good luck everyone. I wish you all success.

(post shared by RGabrielShih)