In the classic movie Wall Street, Bud Fox made many cold calls but didn’t make any money until he met the fabled Gordon Gekko in person. Personal connections with affluent people can grow a business quickly. It costs money upfront to join the right organizations and to be in the right places to make such connections, but it usually pays off in the long run.
Joining a yacht club might seem like a stretch when it comes to looking for potential affluent clients. The good news is that a person doesn't need to own a yacht and even have any yachting experience to take advantage of this option. Contrary to popular opinion, anyone interested in yachting can join a yacht club, since these exclusive organizations make money teaching newbies boating skills. Yacht owners also look for crews among club members, so people can be part of crews without owning yachts. Yacht clubs usually have robust social calendars, hosting numerous picnics, dinners, parties of all kinds and fun days for members. Some yacht clubs require a referral from another member to join.
The fact is that rich people like socializing and making deals with each other and often do it poolside, on the golf course or on the tennis court at country clubs. Country club memberships can be pricey and cost four or five figures to get in; some of the most exclusive country clubs attached to property owner associations simply may be off limits without a personal invitation from property owners. The good news is that the range of activities and events offered by country clubs means having access to networking opportunities year-round.
First-class airline tickets often cost $3,000 or more, which puts flying first class out of reach for people of average means. People interested in networking opportunities — who fly for business anyway — should make sure that they have the appropriate travel rewards credit cards and travel club memberships to rack up points toward first-class tickets. When it comes to networking with affluent people in first class, longer flights are preferable. Fly coach for short flights, and save points and perks for cross country or international first-class flights. Financially prudent wealthy people often fly business class to save money, so flying business class can also be an effective place to meet prospective clients.
Some affluent people enjoy window-shopping at the mall and sniffing flowers at their local farmer's market, but they aren’t as easy to spot as they are at museum and art gallery events. Wealthy people also usually have the best seats at the theater and other performing arts venue and often have season tickets, meaning they're in a certain place at a certain time, making it easier to connect with them. The best thing about arts events is that they’re almost always open to the public and often are not as expensive as other networking options. Knowing about upcoming events involves tapping into the art scene and doing a little reconnaissance beforehand. Art galleries always print cards and flyers announcing happenings, so people interested in making connections in this way may benefit from taking a day to visit galleries to find out about upcoming events. Reading local arts magazines and listening to local public radio also offers information on upcoming events.
Affluent people usually have to give away some of their money in order to stay on the good side of the taxman, which makes certain types of fundraising events ideal places to meet them. Martha Stewart might be first in line at a local cupcake fundraiser, but other affluent people usually attend charitable auctions and fundraising dinners. People interested in connecting with the wealthy should keep an eye out for unique fundraising events — a charitable dinner hosted by a renowned chef or a charitable auction featuring high-end items, such as vacations to exotic places and collector's items such as fine art. Fundraising galas that require black ties and evening gowns are also effective places to meet wealthy people.