Traditional Networking Is Dead. Instead, Build a Community That Connects People.
How one weekend boot camp aims to build a lifelong business community.
Eighty-five percent of jobs are filled through networking, yet traditional networking events can be cringeworthy ordeals. From impersonal talks to anxiety-inducing meet and greets, it’s rare that long-term, impactful relationships are forged.
Enter Survive and Thrive Today, the brainchild of serial entrepreneur Sachin Narode, assisted by business award-winner Marva Allen, and venture capitalist Swatick Majumdar.
In its second year, this weekend-long boot camp invites mission-driven entrepreneurs to trade conference rooms for comfortable wood cabins. There, they collaborate with investors, partners and mentors in an intimate, outdoor environment. It’s interactive, it’s purposeful and it’s the new way to build a community while networking.
Majumdar knows about the struggle of networking while bootstrapping. “As a venture capitalist, mentor and advisor to several startups, I’ve witnessed the trials and tribulations that entrepreneurs face at the ground level—including meeting like-minded people who can provide real value.”
This year, 300 carefully chosen attendees will come together to the picturesque Hess Kramer Camp in Malibu, California, to exchange just that: real value. They’re in for a weekend of stimulating activities, lively parties and curated talks. The speaker lineup ranges from MoviePass CEO Mitch Lowe to best-selling author Erik Qualman and Vernice "FlyGirl" Armour, the first African-American female combat pilot.
But if guests think the weekend is just about speeches and mixers, they should think again. The mission of Survive and Thrive Today isn’t just to throw a one-time event: It’s to cultivate a lifelong community. “Once you’re in, you can’t get out,” quips Majumdar. “We’re here to support your whole journey."
The Survive and Thrive Today team believes that there are four essential elements to hosting an event that genuinely connects people beyond a mere weekend.
1. Start with the setting.
“Most conferences are in hotels and convention centers with thousands of attendees. This encourages an alienating, rapid-fire environment with no follow-up,” explains Allen. Entrepreneurs end up adopting the “spray and pray” approach: meeting a ton of strangers and then praying something comes of it. “By creating a relaxed, recreational environment, you can facilitate authentic, ongoing relationships.”
Narode points out that when people engage in activities outdoors, they exchange ideas more freely and form bonds organically. At Survive and Thrive Today, the day begins with yoga, meditation and hiking, before ending with a high-octane party. “The experience should never have a corporate or classroom feel,” adds Majumdar. “The backdrop of nature helps everyone lower their guard and open up to genuine connections.”
2. Curate attendees.
Thousands apply to Survive and Thrive Today, but the organization strictly limits the event to 300 attendees. Why? In an intimate group, people are more likely to spend quality time together and forge lasting bonds. “We saw this in action at our first event last year,” says Allen proudly.
Narode suggests that guests be at similar phases in their careers. “Too many networking events are unfocused about whom they invite. Some guests are at the top level, while others are just beginning, which can create a lack of community and intimacy.”
Survive and Thrive Today focuses on mid-level, mission-driven entrepreneurs who haven’t fully scaled but have a strong foundation. “Guests have encountered similar obstacles and have shared experiences. This creates a powerful peer-to-peer connection where they mentor each other,” says Narode.
When choosing whom to admit, the team tries to identify natural leaders who are open to learning and expanding their horizon. “It’s not about having an MBA, but it’s about being a real leader. Our ideal participant is a fully developed businessperson. Someone who will add value to a community,” explains Majumdar.
3. Offer practical tools.
Majumdar insists it’s imperative to offer guests specific, practical tools, as opposed to vague, generic advice. “Whether through written materials, informative content, or one-on-one meetings, an event should give attendees tools that address their specific needs and lead them toward their goals.
“Let’s say someone is at the Minimal Viable Product level. Their company is off the ground, and now they're looking to scale. They not only need investors but they need service providers. We pair them with people who can address those distinct needs.”
By being conscious of each guest’s entrepreneurial objectives, organizers can make informed decisions about how to best position them with mentors and experts. This maximizes everyone’s time and investment.
4. Schedule an interactive, deliberate agenda.
In Allen’s experience, many business events lack an intentional agenda and schedule. As a result, guests are left overstimulated, with a bunch of business cards in their pockets but no meaningful interactions. “We do not talk at entrepreneurs; we engage with them and put them in front of people who can truly influence their growth,” says Allen. “It’s interactive and experiential.”
Beyond team-building events, Majumdar recommends offering mentorships, one-on-one conversations, and time with investors. Nothing should happen by accident. By crafting a careful mix of experiences that blends interaction, learning and fun, you’ll also save attendees from burnout.
Ultimately, crafting an event that genuinely connects people is no small task. It’s not as simple as throwing a party -- facilitating real relationships is a nuanced art. Whether you’re hosting a networking event or planning a full-scale getaway, the same principles hold true. For the Survive and Thrive team, it’s about looking beyond the event itself and building a lasting community.
Limited tickets and more information about Survive and Thrive Today are available at surviveandthrivetoday.com
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