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October 24, 2017

How to Build Social Capital: Connect and Entertain Your Networks

I’m telling you this story because THEY did something I couldn’t believe. Actually, it’s not that they did something. It’s that they didn’t do something.

Back in 2011 I was honored to be named “40 Under 40” by the Denver Business Journal. This isn’t a humblebrag article. Just wait.

When you win the award, the DBJ throws a big luncheon. Companies sponsor tables and everyone gets together to hear your story and applaud you.

But literally, that was it. Zero interaction before. Zero interaction afterward. ZERO.

After the awards lunch I was really disappointed. I wanted to get to know some of the amazing people that had won with me, but there was no way to make it happen.

I decided to reach out to the journal and ask if they could send me an email list. As it turns out, they monetize the event with the email list and charge thousands of dollars to access it. Surprise surprise.

So I took a different approach and the results were incredible.

This is how I increased my social capital by giving back:

1️⃣ I hired a virtual assistant to go online and find everyone’s contact information. 

I even instructed the VA to call people when the contact information wasn’t available online.

In just a few hundred dollars and a couple days, I had my list.

2️⃣ I had the VA to connect me with everyone from the list on Facebook & LinkedIn. 

I wasn’t surprised that as soon as people found out that I had an email list from the awards  lunch, they asked to have it. I said you’re welcome to connect with people at one of my events and  get their information yourself, but you’ve got to put in the work.

3️⃣ I set up a Facebook and LinkedIn group for all my new contacts. 

As a special touch, I used a custom logo for each of the groups. Everyone associated the logo with being a member of that group.

Pro-tip: I didn’t create the custom logo myself. I went to fiverr.com and paid 5 bucks for someone to make it. Easy.

4️⃣ I started to add value to each of the groups. (This is critical).

I filled group discussions with some content, asked people questions for help, and posted some useful resources. When somebody else would post, I would be the first to jump in and make sure they got an answer or I connected them to somebody who did.

What I wanted to do is show immediate value. That got the momentum going for people to use the group for themselves and is how I developed an audience.

That’s the easy stuff.

What I did next separates me from the average networker. I’m not bragging, but I know I’m really good at this. When people ask me how I have such a great network, these are the exact steps I take.

There’s nothing magic about it, it’s just a whole bunch of hard-ass work and giving a shit about other people.

Soon I realized that I wanted to hang out with these folks.

This is where it gets gangster…

Hosting Exclusive Events

I hosted an event to connect people, grow my social capital — and in turn, grow theirs. It’s my way of giving back.

From Online to In-Person

1️⃣ I threw a happy hour…

…but not just any happy hour.

I could have thrown a happy hour by inviting people to a bar at the same day and time and letting them buy their own drinks. I didn’t do that. Why? Because that would have made me an organizer or a glorified evite sender.

I wanted to do something more. To give more. To actually entertain my guests. So…

2️⃣ I rented a venue that was just for us.

It was a private place where we could all get together without running into other people. It removed distractions. It was exclusive.

Pro-tip: Negotiate! When I went to rent the venue I came up with a good old-fashioned trick, because you know I like to negotiate like an Indian. I asked the venue if they would let me use the space for free. In exchange I’d bring a bunch of influencers to see the space. These influencers might use the venue to throw future events. And turns out, people from my event rented the space for their own events later on. True story.

3️⃣ I went all-out on entertainment.

  • Booze: I made sure there was plenty of it. Beer, wine, cocktails, plus a few signature cocktails for that special touch.
  • Music: I hired a DJ to spin beats for us as dope background music. The idea wasn’t that everyone needed to turn this into a dance party, but having a DJ bang beats is way better than having some shitty little iTunes playlist.
  • Appetizers: of course.
  • Professional photographer: I did this for 1 very important reason, so pay attention because it’s clutch:

Part of building a network is helping other people look good as opposed to solely making yourself look good.

After the event I posted the pictures on social media. I tagged people in every picture and added a caption. This let everyone know that the occasion was a 40 under 40 event exclusively hosted by Andy Seth.

My guests got even more mileage out of winning the award because now someone else (me) was bragging about them being a 40 under 40 winner. It was all over social media.

I got the nice little side benefit of being the one associated with hosting the event.

4️⃣ I spent about a grand on this event out of pocket.

But I don’t look at it as a cost. I look at it as an investment. It’s an investment into a solid group of people who are doing well in their careers and doing good in their communities.

These are my people.

Passing the Torch: What Happened After Giving Back

The event was such a hit that I threw it again the year after and invited my 2011 class as well as the new 2012 class.

I named the event “Passing the Torch.”

Every year since then, I repeat the steps above and build a list of all the new winners. I invite them to the online groups and host an event in their honor. All classes from my year and beyond are invited. The event has become such a hit that winners from previous years ask for invites!

And here’s the best part…

…there’s an endless stream of people for me to connect with.

40 each year, to be exact.

By giving first, I have the privilege of knowing everyone as an individual without them worrying that they’re being sold something. Because at the end of the day, it’s not about selling. It’s about listening for ways to help.

Again, the key is to not sell but to listen for ways to help them.

If you can help people by entertaining them for a night, connecting them with other amazing people, and creating an experience that is safe (without getting hit up), you’ve done something that no one else is willing to do.

Because at the end of the day, only the losers are in it for the short game.

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