This article is part of a series on strategies and hacks of self-made billionaire entrepreneurs. We divided it into eight parts: Charlie Munger, Warren Buffett, Ray Dalio, Jeff Bezos, Elizabeth Holmes, Steve Jobs, Reid Hoffman, and Elon Musk.
Billionaire Entrepreneur Strategy:
If you reverse engineer the relationships of many successful entrepreneurs, as I have, you will realize that many people work with the same people over and over in their careers.
In the technology world, this phenomenon has been cataloged extensively (see the mafias of Oracle, Netscape, Fairchild, PayPal, and Myspace). Each of these companies have spawned new multi-billion dollar enterprises as a result of former employees starting new companies together, advising each other, investing in each other, and much more.
These long-term, collaborative networks are often referred to as mafias. Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn and part of the PayPal mafia, has put these types of relationships at the center of his career and makes a case that others should too. In the information age, one of the best ways to get information is not from just being better at searching Google, it's from learning how to build a network and get the information you need through that network, Hoffman says.
In a fascinating interview on This Week In Startups, Hoffman goes so far as to say that the biggest mistake in his career was deciding that in order to be a product manager he needed to learn product management skills. In retrospect, he would have focused on placing himself in the right network by working at one of the fastest growing, futuristic companies at that time: Netscape.
Hoffman refers to the information that only exists in people's heads as the 'dark net.' This includes information that is not searchable online, in any book, or in any classroom and never will be.
Getting access to this 'dark net' information from people who have accomplished what you want to accomplish is extremely valuable and will help you think independently. The 'dark net' includes people's lessons learned and hacks, topics that are too sensitive to talk about because they make someone look bad, and tacit knowledge (knowledge that people have but aren't able to articulate).
Hoffman explains the power of the 'dark net', "Ten extremely informed individuals who are happy to share what they know with you when you engage them can tell you a lot more than a thousand people you only know in the most superficial way."
Billionaire Entrepreneur Hack:
Deep long-term relationships don't happen by chance. Just as divorce rates are high, so too are partnerships that go sour.
Two keys on building long-term relationships that I've learned from researching and writing on the art and science of building deep and authentic relationships for Forbes include:
Key #1: Be extremely picky about whom you spend a lot of time around.
Our time is limited. Every minute you spend with one person is a minute you're NOT spending with someone else. Below are characteristics other relationship builders and I use for filtering our professional network:
1. Professional network. Qualities that I look for:
2. Close business relationships. Rohit Anabheri, founder of the firm Circa Ventures($10M+ revenue), has built multiple multimillion dollar companies before he turned 30. He has built each business through business partnerships by using the following rules:
Key #2: Invest the time.
No matter how successful you are, building deep relationships still takes a lot of time. So, it's critical to turn relationship building into a habit.
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