By Andrew Neitlich

An important lesson from Donald Trump

By Andrew Neitlich

Personally, I can’t stand Donald Trump. His values are the opposite of many of mine. He is unfaithful in relationships, relishes fame, and seems to be a sad character in his ongoing craving for ego gratification. He is supposed to be an engaging guy in person, but I’ve never met him and so have no idea.

I saw him on the cover of People magazine this week with his new baby (not the young woman sitting next to him, but the infant in her arms!).

Anyway, he is financially successful and we can learn something from some of his tactics. The one tactic that I think is EXTREMELY applicable to Sitepoint readers (who are often in their 20s, like he was when he started) is something he did when first starting out:


He joined a few exclusive clubs where wealthy and influential people hang out. Maybe his father pulled some strings to get him in, but odds are good he used his own persuasion to join.

And then he kept going, and kept meeting important contacts.

There are all sorts of clubs in your area. Chambers of Commerce are one such club, although to meet the real movers and shakers you need to join a board or important committee and really take on a leadership role. Join your local Alumni association or University club. Visit investor seminars. Get on the board of an important non-profit.

Anyone tried this with success?

  • EagleEyesDesign

    A good friend of mine has been part of the Rotary Club for 30+ years. He’s been a real estate and mortgage broker and gets a lot of business that way. They do a LOT of good in the community. This is a dependable method of networking for him that he really enjoys.

    That club has traditions that are too goofy for me. Any “cool” clubs? – Christina

  • VoxxitDesigns

    I am on the board of directors for GLSEN South Florida (www.glsen.org) and I have gotten my company’s name spread around to so many avenues that I can’t hardly go one place without someone mentioning it. Networking with non-profits and community project organizations is really a great way to go, not to mention some of them have a basically unlimited budget.

  • aneitlich


    You raise a great point. I’ve always found Rotary to be a bit staid and “old.” I think there is a major opportunity to start up a new, cool kind of networking/service club for a younger set.

    For instance, in Sarasota FL, one group started up The Young Professionals Group, which is part of the Chamber. It is for under forties.

    Similarly, I know a guy in Marin County, CA who started a weekly breakfast club. He got a great speaker every week. Now he has a year-long waiting list to join, and members include the Mayor, local millionaires, etc. It’s THE PLACE to be a member. Why not start something similar on your own? It will take time but be more than worth the effort. Start with a quarterly or monthly thing.

    I worked with a local bank to start a free leadership group that I would facilitate. The bank provided the space and food, and I would provide the facilitation and get some speakers in.

    If your business generates some big bucks, you can look into joining things like the YPO (Young President’s Organization), and things like it.



  • aneitlich

    Here is another one: Join a local country/golf or tennis club.

    I met my #1 referral source through a tennis pro who matched up up. That one meeting has led to about $500,000 in revenues for me over 4 years, with more on the way!


    Andrew again

  • The New Guy

    *whistles* slave morality…

  • ikeo

    Or start out at a local wireless cafe …

    A lot of developers/designers hang out at the really nice wireless places like Seattle’s Best Coffee etc with good reason. The athmosphere is usually great.If you pick well, the location can be comfortable and ,of course, there’s that free internet.

    Just go in there with one or two PHP/.NET/AJAX/CSS books in plain view (make sure they’re advanced books … you don’t want to look like an amateur) and work for a little bit, try to look busy but relaxed at the same time.

    Pick the more upscale places … (the more 15 inch Apple powerbooks/Macbook Pros … the better :) Usually you’ll catch someone looking at your book or overhear them talking about Google ads/PSD layouts etc and then you can politely start up a conversation and see where it goes.

    Just be sure to buy something every once in a while, and be nice to the staff. I’ve met quite a few really good clients/contacts this way.

  • dev_cw

    The country club has been good for my company (I am not a club member but my partner is) we have several contracts that originated from 18 holes of golf. I, on the other side, am active in adventure sports (rock climbing, scuba diving, etc..) and have been active in a few clubs. We were able to secure a few contracts there as well but not nearly as successful as with the country(golf) club. The thing about golf is that it has been associated with business and it is OK to ‘talk shop’ while playing…this is not true of some other sports where you go to get away from work. In choosing an activity to make contacts, make sure it is one that accepts ‘shop talk’.

  • Mr. B

    I can see how this works. It’s just making connections in another way. I live in a new, growing community and I’m starting to get out there and meet people as well as become involved with clubs and organizations that can help me make connections that lead to more opportunity. I don’t think it’s that hard if you actually give it a try.

  • I haven’t joined a Board yet, but I’ve jumped on as the IT Director of a major food bank in the Denver area. I volunteer most of my time, get to test out new techniques of handling web development, and I get to put a high-level position on my resume.

    Joining a board or group is my next step, but this has worked very nicely in the mean time.

  • http://www.xuzo.com

    I have joined the Vancouver Board of trade before when I used to have a moving company. They had wine and cheese parties and meetings and so.

    Cost me $700 a year but I made $20 000 in contracts from Peter C. Newman, a famous Canadian writer.

    So the bottom line is that is does work if you have a proper product or service.

    Like I think I might have now with my new site http://www.xuzo.com , nothing new really but a quality site where you can write a small article and increase you audience and link popularity.

  • OfficeOfTheLaw

    Yeah, exclusive vlubs can be quite expensive! I’m considering joining the Freemasons, currently the initial membership here for the first 3 degrees is only $125, not too bad. ;)

  • EagleEyesDesign

    “why not start something similar on your own?”

    Considering it now! Sounds like fun if a small, non-catty & honest group of people is possible to find. The cafe idea ikeo described sounds like it would fit me perfectly too, with less need for an exact schedule. I get a bit overwhelmed in large groups but small groups are a blast. – Christina

  • mhdoc

    I once saw a post from a very wealthy man who said the old guys exercising every morning in the shopping mall were potentially a great source of angel investors.

  • Anonymous

    Going a little off topic but don’t the masons want to take over the world???

  • OfficeOfTheLaw

    Going a little off topic but don’t the masons want to take over the world???

    Sounds like a great organization to meet powerful people to me! ;)

    But all kidding aside, nah… it’s just a quite old and powerful social group.

  • I am going to do this in my new home-town, Melbourne. :) The local market is crap!

  • spVince

    What’s wrong with hanging out on the Sitepoint forums?

  • murph

    it also helped that his father gave him $20 mill.

  • implinet

    Its not what you know, its who you know.

  • tatertot

    What a man to go to the top then go bankrupt then
    go back to the top of his game thats impressive.

  • @bigduke: You should come along to some of our Web Standards Group meetings. Kevin from SitePoint is speaking at the one in a couple of weeks.

  • dreamscape

    What a man to go to the top then go bankrupt then
    go back to the top of his game thats impressive.

    Several of his companies have filed for bankruptcy more than once. It seems to be part of his business strategy.

  • Anonymous

    My business literally started in the meeting room at the Small Business Association. Yes, small business owners is going to attract a lot of low-end work, but it attracts a lot of larger stuff as well, especially since many small business owners know a lot of others. For a whopping $125 a year and the time to go to a few networking functions, you can’t go wrong.

    I’m moving up in the networking food chain – next it’s the chamber of commerce.

  • Runningfish.net

    I truly believe that networking is the key to a successful business! It’s not what you know, but who you know, right?
    I am new to this whole making business connections and what not and after reading the article and comments, It will help me discover what opportunities await?

  • nicole

    Donald trump may have been the envy of many and many have also criticised his ventures. However, his businesses have been quite succesful to a large extent. Having said that, UniversityOfVictory.org has just launched a program similar to the Trump University’s Entrepreneurship Mastery program. It also has a distributorship opportunity where you can make $1000 on the $1500 package.
    This could offer some competition or not ? what say ?

  • Jim Beck

    Looked at http://www.universityofvictory.com has quite an amazing amount and variety of content. but the program I saw is $2995 not $1500. I think I read something about a free business opportunity option for reselling their products or affiliate marketing them. (whatever the correct term is). In any case, it doesn’t have the Trump name, but I do like that it seems very practical, step-by-step how to rather than theory. Surprisingly Trump’s course actually costs less! Is this Victory Darwin a big name at all?

  • LCFR

    I think joining a networking club such as the Lyons Club , Rotary is a great idea as long as you dont look hungry for contacts. My business was based on the contacts that i met in the Freemasons. Especially with the internet the geographic location is not a limit.

    If you want to join my online group email me ggianniotis@telpacific.com.au

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