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6 Pro Tips for Founders and Entrepreneurs on Building Connections

As humans, we hunger for connection and meaningful interaction.

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Opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of Rolling Stone editors or publishers.

In the first week of June, I joined the ranks of 50,000 people gathered in Miami for Bitcoin 2021. It was a gathering of entrepreneurs and thought leaders in blockchain, AI, NFTs and artists of all types. CEOs, politicians, founders, investors and the mayor of Miami mingled with artists, musicians, disruptors and good-time party people.

There’s a big difference between networking and connecting.

I’ve heard for years that my unique superhero power is being “the bridge.” I don’t just network; I connect, often bringing one party to another where they would normally never meet. These interactions have resulted in lifelong friendships and financial success. So, in this article, I reveal six remarkably simple hip tips that I intuitively use to go beyond networking:

1. Be part of the community.

The pandemic phrase “we’re all in this together” has never been truer as the world reopens. We’re stronger in communities. People are the doorways to opportunity.

You may wonder, “But, how do I gain access to communities where I can make connections?”

The answer is preparation. Use your socials, groups on apps like Telegram or Whatsapp to find other people going to the same conference or industry event. Put it out there that you wish to attend as many meet-ups, dinners and art openings as possible. I found myself in Telegram groups like the Satoshi Roundtable, which is a private community of blockchain, AI, future tech and crypto enthusiasts who meet in places around the world each year. One of its members had created an Excel spreadsheet of all the events off-site from the conference schedule.

Post on Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp or whatever platforms you use that you’re in town seeking to meet up. You’ll be surprised. Often people you barely know or hardly remember can sometimes lead you to the best events that become business or social breakthroughs.

2. Giving precedes taking.

Why not host a cocktail party or a trip to a gallery or museum? Putting the word out will bring the right people to you rather than vice versa.

I went to one event at a local science museum hosted by the WallStreetBets founder Jaime Rogozinski. I’m not a member of WallStreetBets, but I found myself meeting Mr. Rogozinki and making a new friend. Upon returning home to New York, I further strengthened the hip tip philosophy of “giving before taking by introducing Mr. Rogozinki to a mutual colleague he wanted to meet. I learned a lot talking to him about the organic way people came together on WSB to share their ideas, news, memes, stories, and now it’s a formidable global community with millions of members.

Aim to make giving a priority in order to facilitate true connection beyond just that of networking.

The Rolling Stone Culture Council is an invitation-only community for Influencers, Innovators and Creatives. Do I qualify?

3. Make friends first.

This may seem overly simple but the power of being in a business conference and just making friends — inviting people for lunch or to the pool without pitching them anything — is a quantum way to establish an authentic connection. If nothing else, focus on making friends.

4. Dress for success.

The odd duck always stands out. One of the main stage speakers attending the event was legendary Silicon Valley VC Tim Draper. He wore a business suit but mixed it up by wearing a Bitcoin tie. Another featured speaker was billionaire entrepreneur Brock Pierce, who always is authentic. To me, he often looks more like Wild-Bill Hitchcock than a recent U.S. Presidential candidate.

As superficial as it sounds, where you stay, who you’re with and how you dress impacts people who don’t know you yet. You get judged by your vibe and appearance, so let your unique light shine bright.

I stayed at the newly opened Goodtime Hotel in South Beach, which is owned by Pharrell. The chic decor was inviting and gorgeous, and superstar DJ David Guetta played at the modest hotel pool on Saturday and DJ Marshmello on Sunday. The hotel manager was kind enough to offer free wrist bands, so we skipped the line. It looped me into hip tip No. 2 — giving before taking. I had something I could offer people with a “Hey, come to my hotel to hear David Guetta spin.” An unexpected value-add to offer future business or social partners, thereby creating a pleasurable and fun experience.

5. Leverage social media.

Clubhouse, Instagram, Facebook, Telegram, Whatsapp and other platforms share invites, stories, photos of events happening and planned. Many are free and open to anyone. Make sure to post that you’re at the conference looking to meet up. You’ll be surprised how sometimes people you don’t even remember come out of the woodwork and offer a golden-ticket invite. I kept posting across my socials to share where the action was. This ties into hip tip No.1 — become part of the community.

6. Relax and be authentic.

Am I open to additional paid work in my field? Yes. Am I starting to do a seed fundraising round for a new startup? Yes. But I came with no pitch deck, no whitepaper, no business cards nor contact beyond Instagram. By simply attending, amazing synchronicity happened at every turn.

Expect a miracle. When you leap, the universe leaps with you.

The traditional way of going to events with a name tag, handing out business cards to potential clients or customers is dissolving like the Cheshire Cat into the new normal: a more authentic connection.

The reopening world is different. As humans, we hunger for connection and meaningful interaction. I’ll meet you there someday and we shall celebrate the possibilities each day gifts to us.

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