Everyone “knows” networking is important.
What rich people know that you don’t is how important.
At the end of the day, it’s not about who you know, but who you are. But at the beginning of the day, it is most definitely about who you know.
It is worth paying a high, high premium to get access to the right circles. Open your eyes to this and it’ll become obvious. After this post, you’ll start to see where these circles are all around you.
Where the Wealthy Network
First Class Seats
Buy a first-class ticket on your next flight. This is the one you may not expect, which is exactly why I put it first.
Years ago, I took a boring flight from Washington, DC to a midwestern city. These kinds of flights tend to be on planes only 3 or 4 seats across.
I wasn’t trying to be fancy, but I guess I had the most points out of the normie class on the flight and bumped up to first class.
Neat! It was only a regional flight, so I wasn’t expecting much. Maybe boarding first. Oh cool, they come around and ask me if I need a drink before the flight even takes off. That’s special.
Then another passenger sits down. It was random, but I had met this guy once before. We had shared a drink with a mutual friend once months before. Turns out he worked for a lobbying firm. Not sure if it was lobbying exactly, but any business in Washington de facto does lobbying. Anyway, he was high enough in his firm that he ran the office in the midwestern city. Not only that, but he was essentially the only one there. He had enough leverage to say “I don’t want to live in Washington; I want my kids to grow up in X town” and they just said yes.
He was in Washington because John McCain had recently died, and this was the guy who organized his funeral. He was apparently super connected to the Republican side of DC which is why his firm managed it. We talked about it and his work a little bit.
Act Like You’ve Been There
Importantly, I was interested in his work but not “impressed” by it. This is key. Being interested in someone is a form of respect. Being impressed is a signal of subservience. You’re letting them know you don’t network at high levels if your eyes go wide when they mention big numbers (“just secured a $2 million deal this morning” or “had lunch with Munger last week and…”). If you take it in stride, you’re demonstrating your own comfort with big numbers and bigger players.
Think about it. Why does someone name drop? To impress or establish clout. What if it doesn’t impress? It’s because the person hearing the message either knows something the other doesn’t or they’ve heard it before—AKA they’re already networked themselves.
As for me, I’m not impressed because wtf does McCain’s funeral have to do with me? No disrespect to the late statesman, but I have nothing to gain from that information. Maybe I would react differently if I ran a startup and sat next to a big-time investor.
Regardless, I walked out of the plane with his business card without having to ask for it. That’s probably down to more his competence as a networker than mine. Nothing wrong with being the first to offer, or (tactfully) asking for what you want.
Or just fly private only with WheelsUp or when you buy a jet with your friends.
Top-Tier MBAs are for Networking
If you’re trying to start a business, don’t get an MBA. That’s not what the MBAs tell you, but that’s what the people I know who have a successful business say.
Nevertheless, if you’re really keen on getting one, you should only go to a top 25 business school. here’s the lesson. MBAs aren’t about the knowledge nearly as much as it is about the network.
Seriously. This probably applies much more broadly to college as well. You can get all the info you need from an MBA by reading a 10 books and 100 case studies. What you will miss out on in that scenario is access to the other current adn future go-getters.
“Come on, it’s only Cornell.”
There are many polite lies in society, and one of them is that college has inherent value and that you just need to get a degree. This is a gross lie. Mediocre schools won’t correct this because they want your money. Top schools won’t correct this (openly) because they don’t want the peasants to revolt.
I know someone who works for a big-time management consulting firm (e.g. Bain, McKinsey, KPMG, Boston Consulting Group, etc.). They were looking at MBA candidates to potentially hire.
They were looking at two recommendations. Both had just earned their MBAs, one from Harvard, the other from Cornell. In case you don’t know, both of these are Ivy League (while Cornell is for sure at the bottom end of Ivy).
Both seemed equally competent, had solid experience, and performed well in interviews. It was a tight race. So they looked at the candidates’ academic records. Then one of those on the hiring committee outright said “come on, it’s only Cornell.”
Not all Ivy Leagues are created equal. God knows not all MBAs are created equal.
It’s funny. I know another guy who literally got a perfect score on both the SAT and ACT when we were in high school. That year, fewer than 10 people in the country earned a perfect score on both. For some reason he still didn’t get into MIT. What gives?
Is it fair? Nope.
Is it how the world works? Hell yes.
This world is very competitive and is very much a haven for the elite. They hire from target schools and aren’t ashamed of it. Your network matters more than your resume.
This works both in your favor and against it. If you are already in the netowrk, you can ride a virtuous cyce upward. If you’re outside of it, you’ll constantly run into brick walls and face rejections, putting you into a lesser category, making it difficult to break out of it.
This is true regardless of the country, political system, race, and I’m sure many other factors. Bias exists, and in-group bias is strongest.
When you want to break into a network, it takes tact. Wealth is one of your tools into a network, and a network is one of your tools into wealth.
One more example, because I like things in threes.
Use Private Events & Clubs for Networking
Free is Usually Bad
I moved to a new city a few years ago. I went to so, so many networking groups when I showed up just to try and build a social foothold in the city.
First lesson I learned: free events attract shitty people.
I’m not remarking on their value as a human being or their worth in the eyes of our creator. I’m 100% remarking on their value as a lead or someone that can help make you money.
If you’re going to an event for free food or trying to get your resume out for your first job, I get it. It’s still a bad idea because you’ll probably just run into other people trying to do the same thing. The exception to the rule is when the group is highly recommended, has a strong culture already established, or is so niche it won’t attract the kinds of people who can fake their own competence.
The shortcut: look for events where you have to pay a nominal fee to get in, even $5. This is usually enough to keep out a lot of useless recruiters, the desperate who just want to take and not give, and the boring. Or at least a good chunk of them.
Pay for Your Social Circle
Networking is almost always best when done accidentally. You want to give your card to new friends, not new strangers. Social clubs create this opportunity.
Country clubs are still around, but they lack the thrill they once used to. The idea is still solid—it’s just distributed into other venues now. Pay a fee to get in and be around and socialize with other winners. When the fees are high, you can’t fake your success. E.g. If you join a $10,000/year fee club, you’re either incredibly committed to your networking or you are already successful. People with either trait are welcome because the poor person paying a lot will probably not stay poor for long.
It’s not just golf courses for old men. Join a car club where you have to own an exotic to get in or a travel club where you’re paying $10,00 per trip. There are niches for everyone.
Networking is a skill and a lifestyle. It’s not just about getting in the circle, but what you offer it.
There’s more to say on the subject, but I want you to take away at least one thing from this: networking the with right people costs money.
It’s worth it.