The 80/20 Rule Applied To Networking

Why meeting "super-connectors" and joining mastermind groups is so effective.

A phenomenon called Dunbar’s Number, proposed by Robin Dunbar in the 1990s suggests cognitive limits to our social constructs.

Basically, there are limits to the amount of information our brain’s neocortex can store about the people in our lives, so we must make each interaction with the world around us deep, meaningful, and memorable if we wish to positive impact others. 

Dunbar’s number is actually a series of limits, generally multiplicable and divisible by three. 

You will know the most detail about the five closest people in your network. These are family, children or spouses, and your best friend(s).

From there, there are likely around fifteen people you’ll turn to for support in your darkest moments, which may include extended family members and other very close friends. You have rich, long-lasting relationships with these people.

There’s about fifty people with whom you communicate often. You would invite these members of your network to group dinners, ask them for advice or help, and perhaps have them watch your child if you went out for date night. 

For about only 150 people, you’ll be able to keep up active friendships and some awareness of the happenings in their lives.

You may be lucky enough to know around 500 people as “acquaintances” with little understanding of their lives in great detail, and super-connectors with incredible memories may be able to remember up to 1500 face-and-name combos. 

In my opinion, this is pretty limiting. 

How are you supposed to choose which 150 people to keep in touch with regularly? 

And what do we do with the other hundreds, or thousands, of people we work with, want to meet, and rely upon to run our businesses and enrich our lives? 

The 80/20 Rule in Networking

In How To Build A World-Class Network In Record Time, we talk about managing your “fringe” network, but today I want to share some ideas around the importance of the 80/20 rule (i.e. The Pareto Principle) when it comes to your network.

80% of your time, intention, and investment of resources when it comes to building deep, meaningful relationships should be spent on the top 20% of subject matter experts, mentors, clients, and super-connectors in your network.

Doing this, while also being a good person and providing value upfront to everyone in your network is a balancing act.

You do not want to come off as a jerk to anyone you meet, and you never know who could put you in touch with your ideal client, investor, mentor, etc.

However, with Dunbar’s Number in mind and the ever-increasing busyness of our lives, we must focus on serving and staying connected to super-connectors.

I’ve architected my business around serving the top 100 or so individuals on my Relationship Action Plan.

Through Meeting of the Minds, we provide ongoing value to our clients and the individuals they refer to us.

Through this newsletter, I’m able to do one-to-many networking with hundreds of influential entrepreneurs and thought leaders I’ve met over the last decade while also inviting key contacts to do interviews with me that we publish each Wednesday (providing value to interviewees and email list subscribers alike).

Through my books, I’m able to interview, profile, and sell a low-priced, high-value product to thousands of individuals who could later work with me, follow my work, or reconnect for more meaningful interactions

And, whenever I need access to resources, new opportunities, or specific types of individuals (be they designers, investors, editors, engineers, wedding planners, whatever), I can broadcast those “asks” to my fringe network via social media and, more intentionally, to specific members of my Top 100.

The ROI of Investing In Mastermind Groips

There are a LOT of options for you if you’re considering joining an online community and/or mastermind group.

Most super-connectors I know are part of multiple groups, and for comparison’s sake, the range of membership dues for networks of similar quality, meeting cadence, and member type to Meeting of the Minds is $12K - $100K per year.

As we spoke about through this newsletter previously, the value in ONE great business partnership, referral, introduction to a trusted adviser such as a lawyer or accountant, or breakthrough idea that can save you time and money in your business growth is worth many YEARS of membership in terms of ROI.

Additionally, if you want to spend 80% of your time with super-connectors, then it makes sense to invest in the communities where those type of people hang out.

Codie Sanchez, creator of the Contrarian Thinking newsletter, notes of masterminds:

“I like to compare these groups to being at a continuous party you can pop in and out of, where you largely never have to engage with someone you don’t like, no feigning interest in boring small talk nonsense, a place where everyone is interesting (to you), and you get REAL value out of the interactions.”

When you invest in mastermind groups, the ROI is endless…

Namely, we like to point out these five buckets of value our clients receive in Meeting of the Minds and other comparable groups.

  • Curated Connections - The success of your business (and the quality of your life!) is a direct result of the people you meet and how much you learn from them.

  • Diverse Perspectives - Many of our members are world-class consultants, B2B service providers, and subject matter experts in their own industries who want to see you succeed, and are committed to offering you their accountability, empathy, and resourcefulness in solving pressing problems for you and your business. In a trusting and confidential environment, you can also get valuable constructive criticism from people who know and care about you.

  • Breakthroughs - You are the mad scientist, generational genius, or world-class craftsman we see as “10 years from titan” in your industry. Because of this, all your need is one idea, connection, or “ah-ha” moment from a mastermind group to generate an overwhelming ROI and bring your visions to life more quickly. Regularly, we see our “Minds” leave one of our summits or Deep Dives and generate tens (or even hundreds) of thousands of dollars in new revenue, create new partnerships, shift day-to-day strategies for marketing, sales, business operations, personal branding, etc.

  • Facilitated Follow-Ups - Many of these high-end masterminds, ours included, actually facilitate engagement and connection among members to ensure that you continue benefitting from these communities in between the in-person and virtual events.

  • Scale - Not only will you make more money as a result of mastermind groups such as Meeting of the Minds, but you will save countless hours, days, weeks, months, and even years of time in choosing the best paths forward, hiring top talent, executing on your goals, mapping out effective Standard Operating Procedures, etc. Once you learn top business models, marketing and sales strategies, and “best practices” from other industries, you’ll be able to out-innovate your competitors, better serve your Ideal Customers, and leave a positive, lasting legacy.

In closing…

It PAYS to be intentional about who you spend time with.

Do an 80/20 analysis of your network this week and conclude whether or not your current level of intentionality will help you quickly achieve your goals, or…

If not, reshuffle the ~150 or so individuals you communicate with most frequently.

This could be through joining a mastermind group, or by asking the top super-connectors in your network to introduce you to more people like them.

They say time is money, but actually…time is more valuable (so don’t waste it!!!).

That’s it for today…see you Wednesday :).


Jared Kleinert is the founder of Meeting of the Minds (, as well as a TED speaker, 2x award-winning author, and USA Today's "Most Connected Millennial".

Meeting of the Minds curates "super-connectors" and subject matter experts as invite-only attendees to 3 day summits in places like Napa Valley, Bermuda, and elsewhere, as well as “deep dives” such as this Marketing and Biz Dev strategy & implementation workshop. Members of the MOTM network include CEOs of 7, 8, and 9-figure businesses, creators of globally-recognized brands and social movements, New York Times bestselling authors, founders of pre-IPO tech unicorns, c-suite execs from Fortune 500 companies, and others.

Jared's career began at 15 years old when he started his first company, and took off at 16 while working as the first intern, and then one of the first 10 employees, for an enterprise SaaS company called 15Five, which today has raised over $40M and has almost 2000 forward-thinking companies as monthly recurring clients.

Later, Jared would become a delegate to President Obama's 2013 Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Malaysia, write multiple books including the "#1 Entrepreneurship Book of 2015", and speak at TED@IBM the day before he turned 20.

As a highly-sought after keynote speaker and consultant, Jared’s clients range from organizations like Facebook, Samsung, Bacardi, Estee Lauder, IBM, Cornell, Berkeley, AdAge, and the National Speakers Association. His insights on entrepreneurship, networking, marketing, and business development have been featured in Forbes, TIME, Harvard Business Review, Fortune, NPR, Entrepreneur, Mashable, Fox Business and more.

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