How to Befriend the President

Over the past 6 months, I’d been creating TEDxUMassAmherst. We raised over $25,000, booked 12 keynote speakers (including a national best selling author, the CEO of Hubspot and a former Celtics player), planned a private dinner for 64 people, and planned a networking mixer for 500. It was a lot of work, but WOW was it a learning experience!

The biggest thing I learned throughout this process is how to create value and relationships. This ties back to a question I’ve been pondering for a year now: why are some people well liked and others aren’t? The answer is very simple.

The key to befriending anyone on the face of this planet is to create a mutually beneficial relationship, whether it’s the President or your neighbor. The fact of the matter is, no one wants to be with someone they get 0 benefit from being around. Whether it is because that person can provide you with a resource or simply make you laugh, if there is nothing in it for you, you’re not going to waste your time with that person. When you create a mutually beneficial relationship, you are creating value for the other person and hence strengthening that relationship.

This really clicked with me when I was out raising money for TEDxUMassAmherst. We didn’t raise much money in the beginning for the simple fact that we had nothing to really offer other than a ticket to the event. I realized something needed to be changed, so my co-founder and I put together a buffet of benefits for sponsorship. We created a recruiting database full of resumes of UMass students, we offered to market their company through multiple mediums, and most importantly, we created a private dinner with the purpose of facilitating relationships between the speakers and sponsors. At that point, the money we would receive in exchange for sponsorship was mutually beneficial; it wasn’t just a one way street.

Since then, with all of my both personal and professional relationships, I try to make them as mutually beneficial as possible. You’ll notice people like you a lot more and that you make a LOT more friends that way. You also receive the great perk of good karma, which I promise will send a lot of good things your way. I even go a step further and live by the 1-for-2 concept: when someone does you a favor, do 2 back for them. When everyone is constantly “indebted” to you, everyone is thinking about you. The next time your friend gets some Pats tickets, guess who he is taking with him? Not the guy who is crashing on his couch, but the guy who helped him move out of his house for free or the guy who got him an interview somewhere.

My whole point is always give back. The more you give back the more you receive. It’s THAT simple.