I recently finished up Mastermind Dinners by Jayson Gaignard which dovetails nicely with Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi. Both books focus on the power of networking, through providing value to others. The books hit a very large number of the same points, both philosophically and tactically.
“We overestimate what we can accomplish in a day, but underestimate what we can accomplish in a year.”
The first half of Mastermind Dinners really explores Jayson’s story. It begins when he’s at a low point in life. He’s broke, $250k in debt, no clue what to do next, and trying to find the next thing. After hearing about the Tim Ferris book promotion (spend $80k on books and get Tim booked at your speaking event), he borrows the money from a friend with no plan.
He uses Tim‘s speaking offer as a way to create an amazing event for entrepreneurs. Rather than attempt to maximize the revenue and allow anyone and everyone to buy in to the conference, he hand reviewed 4,200 applications, looking to only bring together a small group of high level entrepreneurs, authors, and other fascinating people.
By choosing to play the long game, he created a unique event that brought an incredible amount of value to the attendees. This helped him build a network and created powerful friends and fans that would allow him to continue to run similar events in the future. Jayson’s story teaches the power of perseverance and providing value. It also shows the importance of building a network.
I enjoyed Jayson’s story, but I have to say that being in a position to borrow $80,000 from a friend is not exactly something the average individual could do. I’m middle to upper-middle class, and I don’t think I know a single person who would lend me that kind of money at all, let alone without a detailed plan for payback, and I have a job and no debt.
“Show me your friends, and I’ll show you your future…” -John Wooden
Overall I enjoyed the Mastermind Dinners. One of the things I hate most about business books is they frequently turn in to self-help, bullshit with little to no substance. Even though it’s universally loved (especially by the real estate crowd) I’ve always hated Rich Dad, Poor Dad for this reason. All mindset, zero information. Maybe I’m just not the kind of guy who needs to be inspired like that. I was always on the grind wanted knowledge, not a dream.
While there were hints of this, Mastermind Dinners was actually very specific and tactical. Jayson gives his story in real detail then lays out a very step by step blueprint for building your own network, primarily through Mastermind Dinners.
Mastermind Dinners are a way to bring together interesting and diverse groups of people in one place to exchange ideas, knowledge, connections, and just enjoy yourself with like minded people. By being the organizer of these events, you become a “super-connector” in your industry and gain a much more powerful position.
“Honesty, vulnerability and integrity are expensive gifts, don’t expect them from cheap people.”
Overall, if your goal is to build a network that can help you in your life and career, and want to do so in a way that doesn’t feel sleazy, I would recommend checking out Mastermind Dinners by Jayson Gaignard. The book is easily digestible, specific, and tactical, as well as explaining the necessary mind-set for people to want to connect with you. I’ll be referencing this book again as I try setting up my own Mastermind Dinners in the energy industry here in Houston. I’d also suggest reading Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi if you care about networking and relationship building.
Dinners are broken in 2 categories:
Focus is on 3 areas:
- Reconnecting with old ties & maintaining relationships
- Introducing people who can benefit from knowing each other
- Connecting with people who I’ve been meaning to connect with
You can also mix all 3.
Planning a Dinner
- Must be something people can talk about but you don’t want everyone to have too much in common. Extremes either way don’t work.
- No conflicting interests (direct competitors)
- 4-6 so everyone can hear each other and conversation flows.
- 4 you have danger of a cancellation
- 5-6 is probably perfect, but be sure you have a round table
- 8 is a bit big. Get a private room. Not ideal
Who & How to Invite
- Spray & Spray – Email blast and see who signs up. Maybe better at first as you build it up, but not optimal.
- Targeted – Carefully select people who dovetail together.
Working up the Food Chain
Start small. Invite the person most likely to give you a yes (usually least in demand individual), then use that yes for the next invite. Keep working up. This creates extra social proof as you invite each person that’s tougher to get a yes from.
This is the exact opposite of working up the food chain. Rather than go small and use those people for social proof, you go big first. If your grab the big name then this creates buzz and interest for your event. Every subsequent invite is much more likely to be a yes.
Jayson is a strong believer in transparency and honesty. The first thing a salesmen sells is himself, not a product. Be raw and authentic.
- Look for common friends or colleagues
- Go for the #2 (a silver medalist in the Olympics is easier to get than Michael Phelps)
- Do your research
- Find the least “noisy” medium to reach out by (email, phone, etc…)
- Avoid gatekeepers
- He provides some tactical email headlines and bodies (go buy the book for those)
- Jayson has sent over 1,100 video emails and follow-ups, something that would never have occurred to me.
- If ignored, send a follow-up
- If it’s a no, ask “under what circumstances would you say yes”?
- Pick the perfect restaurant.
- Ensure the noise is at the right level.
- Book a specific table ahead of time.
- Know as much about your guests as possible. This allows you to put people together for very specific purposes then prime the conversation.
- Send a calendar invite with all the specifics.
- Do you assign seating or not? Think ahead about placement?
Discuss in advance and include in the meeting invite. That way nothing is awkward. If you can afford it, pick up the tab. If you can’t, that’s ok too. Just ensure everybody knows they’re paying for their own dinner and drinks.
- Confidentiality – All dinner discussion is off the record.
- Drinks by the glass no bottles. Keeps dividing cost easy.
- Order early. It gets it out of the way and prevents time going weird or long
- End time. Have a stated end time so people don’t feel awkward about leaving. People are welcome to stay later.
- No cell phones.
- Do formal introductions if people don’t know each other.
- Can mention their background, biggest accomplishment, etc
- Icebreaker Cards – I really liked this idea. It wasn’t the awkward thing you often do with most icebreakers. Just good ways to get the conversation moving. (Buy the book for examples)
- Take a picture. Sounds cheesy but it’s great to share and send as a follow-up.
- Double Opt-In Introductions. Don’t just send an email with both people copied. You ask the requester what they hope to get out of the connection and the requested if they mind connecting. DOUBLE OPT IN.
- You are the GATEKEEPER of your network. Be VERY VERY PROTECTIVE.
- Create a 1 year calendar reminder to send out another email.
Overall a valuable read for any aspiring entrepreneur, executive or writer. I highly recommend Mastermind Dinners by Jayson Gaignard. It was a very quick and easy read with a lot of valuable information.
“My model has always been that if you’re the smartest person in the room you’re in the wrong room”
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