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Serendipity-on-Demand: Generating Breakthrough Opportunities by Leveraging Your Network

by Patrick Ewers. Last updated on January 09, 2024

The Only Path to True Greatness 

I’m curious if the following resonates with you: You don’t know anyone who has reached their fullest potential without help from others.

Does this strike a chord?

It’s been our experience at Mindmaven that the best things in life often come from our relationships. Whether you’re seeking rockstar talent, investors, marquee clients, acquirers, press, or almost anything else—the best opportunities often come to us from those who know and trust us. 

Take the story of a popular social gaming company several years ago.

They quickly grew to be a giant in their industry. From day one, the CEO and one of their board members knew the importance of relationships.

And so, they began building relationships with potential acquirers long before the company was anything worthy of acquisition.

Fast-forward a few years. They’ve grown to the #2 game in their space. They get an out-of-the-blue acquisition offer for $200M.

Having spent the last 3 years programmatically building meaningful relationships with potential acquirers, he was able to activate those connections with a quick email.

By the end of the day, a bidding war was underway. The result? In just 7 days, the company was sold for $400M.

They doubled their valuation in just one week. That’s practically unheard of.

You definitely can’t achieve it with just strategy, hiring, or org structure. There is nothing else in the world that can produce results for a startup like that in seven days.

Only your tribe—your relationships—can have such a profound impact on your immediate success.

After all, as a founder you only have three resources: Your time, which is finite. Your capital, which is also finite. And your relationships which, leveraged right, can offer near-limitless opportunities. 

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Mastering the Superpower of Fellowship

But how exactly does a founder or start-up executive leverage those relationships at scale to get the kind of opportunities that will allow them to skyrocket to achieving your fullest potential?

This has been a focus of what we do at Mindmaven for more than a decade, and by unlocking the superpower of Fellowship and leveraging the potential of Tribe, you can be a relationship master, even at scale and while taking on the herculean task of building your business.

Fellowship is something we believe every CEO or Founder must develop in order to unlock true greatness and hyper-scale their company to massive success.

There are two main elements to developing this skill.

  1. Acknowledge your job as a CEO. Convincing the best people to join your vision with passion. Get these people to follow you through Hell and back since we all go there at one point or another.
  2. Recognize that your network is always the most valuable. This is what we call your tribe, and the goal is to get them to not only cheer you and your vision on, but to help you reach it by sending you breakthrough opportunities. 

Mastering these allows you to become incredibly skilled at leveraging your network to get things done that would otherwise take intensive investments of time and capital.

How many of you would not be where you are if there was not a moment of serendipity in your lives?

Think about a point where things just came together in what seemed like it could have been an act of divine provenance. When you were provided the opportunity to do something great, often this takes the form of referrals and introductions.

Fellowship allows you to seek out and create more moments of serendipity (more referrals and introductions) – rather than sit back and hope they occur. 

Serendipity: Generating More Referrals 

If your job is to create serendipity and serendipity often comes in the form of referrals, then you must understand that referrals are a process that takes place, not a random act.

The more you master the process the more you can manipulate fate and make serendipity strike more often. Much like the kids taking on the casinos in the 2008 movie 21, improving your odds of serendipity striking even a small amount can have a hugely positive effect.

There are 2 elemental pieces of serendipity, one you can control, and one you can’t:

  1. Timing – You don’t have control over when people hear about the things you want to know or the people you want to meet. There’s nothing you can do about it. So, you must focus on the second element, the one you can control.
  2. Mindshare – The ability of the people in your network to think of you when they come across an opportunity that you want to hear about.

Mindshare: Increasing Your Networks Ability to Send You Opportunities

The more you’re top of mind with people in your network, the more they will think of you at the right time. The beauty of mindshare vs time is that you have almost 100% control over Mindshare.

It’s really a choice, and whenever we have a choice, we can come up with a set of strategies and methods to efficiently address it.

Over time your Mindshare with any given person will decline without interaction.

If you go for too long, then they can become nearly incapable of thinking of you when something comes up. “Use it or lose it” as the adage goes.

So basically, you need to have a system that allows to keep contact with everyone in your network who really matters, even at scale, without spending a lot of time or money to do so. Sound easier said than done?

It’s not.  

Mindshare Pragmatics: How to Stay Top of Mind at Scale 

The quality of a relationship is defined by its interactions, and since quality relationships provide more Mindshare, you want to be able to provide high caliber interactions to your network without having to invest a ton of time into the practice.

There are two main tools to the skill of doing this:

  1. Frequency – You should know how often you want to reach out to people and have a system in place to keep you accountable for doing so.
  2. Quality – Every interaction should be perceived by the recipient as either relevant, meaningful, or valuable.

If I can convince you to send one message per day, every day you work, to someone you would have otherwise contacted, you would be sending somewhere between 260 and 365 emails per year.

If these messages and interactions are quality, then I think you would agree that something great is more likely to come of that. But how do we ensure quality when we’re trying to do so much outreach?

Professional Challenges – One tip to ensuring quality interactions is to begin tracking the professional challenges of people in your network.

Be on the look out for when people you’re meeting with talk about a particular pain point or issue they are having, and record that somewhere.

Then if you see a solution, or a person who may have a solution, you can offer them advice or an intro on your outreach message virtually guaranteed to be valuable.

Personal interests and passions – If you can learn about what people care about, then you can relate to these things and most interactions about mutual passions will be appreciated.

One amazing example, and true story, of even a tiny outreach having huge impact is of a company we know based in Turkey, whose CEO had friends who were Canadian.

When the Toronto Raptors won the NBA title in 2019, this CEO reached out a friend with a remarkably simple message of congratulations. This one simple message directly led to the conversation that got the company both a new investor and member of the cap table.

This example illustrates how easy it is to come up with a relevant message to someone in your network. Which means your time can be focused on who to send these messages to.

If you have 2,000 people in your networks, which is not unreasonable, maybe 5 of those will be able to send you the kind of breakthrough opportunities we’re talking about.

So, learning who these people are, we call them legends, and learning about them and their passions and challenges, will be the best use of your time and energy when it comes to building your Tribe.

Once you know who to reach out to and understand that it doesn’t have to be a massive outreach, it should ease some of the tension that comes with this idea of consistent outreach. 

Going Beyond: Creating Massive Leverage and Using It to Invest in Tribe

At the end of the day, your main job is to leverage your Tribe for the best opportunities.

The way you do this is through building and maintaining Mindshare – or continuous interaction with the people in your network.

Since the quality of a relationship is defined by its interactions, then you want to be able to provide high caliber experiences to your network without having to invest a ton of time into the practice.

We’ve shared a few ways to do this including relating to personal passions, solving professional challenges, and using small but genuine outreach messages to save time while still creating high caliber experiences.

To really push this to the next level though you need to create a massive amount of leverage in the office of the CEO and use that time to invest even further into building your Tribe.

We can help you do this through something we like to call an EM –a hybrid position of an EA and a Chief of Staff, who becomes you partner and accountability buddy in your efforts to unlock the superpower of Fellowship.

If you’re ready to take the nextstep, find your EM, and really gain some traction on your relationships and Mindshare, let us know and we’d love to help. 

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Patrick Ewers