Where to Meet the Power Elite

Keith ferrazzi’s favorite places to hang with other people on the rise.

  • Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO). The organization is for executive managers under the age of 44 and has regional chapters across the United States.
  • Political fund-raisers. Although Ferrazzi once ran for office as a Republican, he no longer openly discusses his political affiliation. Why? So he can have access to both parties. He does 3 to 10 fund-raisers at home each year, supporting both regional and national politicians. It’s easy pickings at the nexus of money and passion.
  • Conferences. “Have something unique to say and become a speaker” is Ferrazzi’s hard-and-fast rule on attending business conferences. Networking is never easier than when people are coming to you.
  • Davos World Economic Forum. Held at the end of January or beginning of February each year, Davos is where corporate chieftains and political heavies discuss making the world better while slaloming the Alps. Your best chance of being invited is if you run a multinational or know someone who does. Many of Ferrazzi’s most important relationships—including Nike’s Phil Knight—have come from Davos.
  • Nonprofit boards. Ferrazzi suggests starting out by finding four or five issues that are important to you and then supporting them locally. Eventually, the goal is to become a board member.
  • Renaissance Weekend. Bill Clinton’s favorite New Year’s event (and, not surprisingly, the place that generated quite a few political appointments) is arguably the network of networks. If you’re not a celebrity, a politician, or a friend of a friend, tough luck. This party, held in Charleston, S.C., is invitation only.
  • Any airplane’s first-class cabin. First class is where the bigwigs sit when they fly. When Ferrazzi was at Deloitte Consulting, he’d pay for his own upgrades, and he eventually generated enough business to get the company to pay his way. There’s a trick, however, to making it work. “You’ve got one shot at starting a conversation,” he says, “and that’s when someone is eating. They’re bored and more receptive than at any time during the flight.”
  • TED Conferences. This annual gathering in February in Monterey, Calif., brings together the well-connected nerd set under the theme “Technology, Entertainment, and Design.” It’s not hard to get an invitation, and the players come out for the heavy mingling, deal making, and often-interesting, if esoteric, seminars.
  • Allen & Co.’s Conference. New York investment banker Herb Allen organized the first event in 1983 to bring media moguls together at a lush ski resort in Sun Valley, Idaho, to do one thing: make deals. Very big deals.

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