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The most successful and seasoned entrepreneurs would have differing viewpoints on many topics and approaches. However, one thing they would mostly agree on is the importance of capitalizing on social capital. Meaningful connections are the ones that double results sooner and help skyrocket progress. Networking to further strengthen social capital is one of the best investments of any entrepreneurs money, attention, and time. It initially takes patience, stepping out of one’s comfort zone, and a degree of discomfort in some cases to take initial steps towards building social capital. But once all is said and done, the rewards are bountiful. Opportunities start making way once time is invested into building a solid network. These opportunities include ideas, collaboration, offers, recognition, referrals, career opportunities, friendships, and of course, personal growth.
All this might sound obvious in theory, but for Steven Dorn, a widely-respected entrepreneur, talent scout, and social media expert, it means serious business. Dorn is the Founder of music management and VC firm, XYZ Media. He has consulted for numerous high-net worth individuals, athletes, and celebrities. He is credited for both discovering and kickstarting the careers of Grammy-nominated R&B star, Bryson Tiller, and Yo Trane. He is also known for his early role behind the success of artists such as David Bowden (known professionally as Pink Sweat$,) amongst many other music artists, and even some of the most popular athletes that are recognized worldwide.
There are many things which make XYZ Media unique, but most interesting of all is the fact that Dorn elected to not develop any marketing collateral whatsoever. In his view, it’s the most efficient way to filter out the noise. This bold move leaves Dorn and the XYZ Media team to rely on word-of-mouth, and count on building authentic relationships through sheer hard work and in industry events to approach up-and-coming artists that demonstrate mass commercial appeal. And this is where his social capital really comes into play.
“I place a great deal of value in my social capital, more than my net worth even,” says Dorn. After years of hard work, I managed to build a power network of connections in the music industry, in which we all collectively support one another towards advancement with solid knowledge of each others needs. We’re all big on establishing genuine connections, and focusing on what ultimately matters most: partnerships that are real, mutually beneficial.”
It is crucial for entrepreneurs to build and nurture relationships of trust, and leveraging those relationships by paying it forward by being willing to help others and ask for assistance when it is needed. This applies both in real life, and online as well, though it is important to bear in mind that online professional networking can sometimes present its own set of challenges because it’s easy to get caught up in the noise of it all and lose strategic focus. Before blindly accepting any and every request to connect, it is best to first look carefully at the individual profiles of the person seeking a connection, to determine if that person qualifies to be in your own network. Upon determining that there is some commonality, you may proceed and initiate a relationship. As with most everything else in life, the quantity of contacts in your online network is not nearly as important as the quality.
- Use technology to accelerate your connecting efforts
- Don’t underestimate the role of events, conference or places that I call “Power Pockets” in your networking efforts
- View networking as a lifestyle and an “inside” game first and remember networking is about relationships
- Focus on giving and helping others and you’ll get more back than you ever expected
As an avid fan of Gale’s work, Dorn puts her networking points into practice. “Just a quick glance into my Instagram would reveal how much I put into networking opportunities,” says Dorn. “In addition to nurturing existing relationships, I put a great deal of effort into branching out and creating new ones, both for the sale of establishing meaningful connections, and also for the professional advancement of XYZ Media and its clients. While it can get exhausting at times, it ultimately pays off in spades in the long run. Like most entrepreneurs, I do take pride in all I know and acquired over the years, but at the end of the day, as we all have seen time and time again, it all comes down to who you know.”