The following story is by Chirag Kulkarni, a serial entrepreneur and advisor. He is currently the CEO of C&M Group, an entrepreneurial strategy consulting firm focused on growth and new product innovation for startups to Fortune 500s. Previously, he cofounded STR, a B2C and B2B racquet-stringing company, and sold it in 2013.
Do you want to increase your chances of getting a check for a million dollars?
Come on, who would say no to that?
Although this may sound far fetched, getting clients to pay you big-time money is not too difficult if you know how to listen.
Yes, listen, not sell.
Believe it or not, there are many places where you could be listening more, versus ignoring.
Here are 3 unusual places to network that can potentially lead to million-dollar deals later on.
1. In a commercial jet
Most people know that entrepreneurs are always jetting the country from meeting to meeting increasing their chances of growing their business.
The past three years, I have been traveling more than ever. In fact, sometimes, I get on the plane and start working and don’t even realize that I have landed in my next city. Unfortunately for most entrepreneurs, this may be one of the biggest mistakes they make.
Think about it like this — an airplane is the one time where the person sitting next to you is bored out of their mind, wants to be painlessly engaged, and cannot wait to get off the flight.
Why not turn that passenger into a business connection? I have met people such as professors from Stanford, navy seals, successful entrepreneurs, writers, and everyone in between.
Almost 85 percent of the time, the person sitting next to me does not serve as business value. However, 90 percent of the time, that individual makes a lasting impression on me and impacts my life in some way.
One time, I met a lady whose grandfather was the CEO of Norton. From a 30-minute conversation, I got her number and was on my way.
My suggestion for every single entrepreneur is to at least chat briefly before the flight takes off, and always exchange business cards if there is interest. If the person sitting next to you can’t be helpful to you today, you may be able to be helpful to them.
2. Your Twitter feed
Do you have a large Twitter following?
Do you actually interact with the people that say “thanks for following me!”
Social listening is a concept I use to learn what people care about and later, turn those people into clients.
For example, out of the four company’s where I am on the board my relationship with three of them started through an interaction on Twitter, which later blossomed into something more. Each of those deals can easily triple your net worth. If you pick the right startups.
Believe it or not, a majority of my networking starts from Twitter. It is important to remember that the human to human connection is what businesses thrive on.
3. Your hotel
Hotels are one of my least favorite places to stay, for many different reasons. In fact, I would much rather stay at a friend’s place on business trips.
Whenever I do go to a city and I am asked to stay in a hotel for business reasons, I will stay somewhere as close to an airport or the city as possible, which generally means living in a Marriott.
Once, I got upgraded to the Marriott Gold Rewards rooms and got access to their premier lounge.
At first, I was completely disinterested. However, I went inside and enjoyed some of the food they had. Many of the individuals there are successful businesspeople, some running multinational companies.
I met a few Boston Bruins fans, and one of them was the director of the PriceaterhouseCoopers International strategy group. Not a bad guy to know if you’re in the business world and, more specifically, in strategy.
Business connections and deals can be done anywhere at anytime.
All it really takes is diligence and a true understanding of an individual to the core.
Where are some unusual places you have found some of the best deals?