Ryan Paugh and Scott Gerber know so much about building community that they literally wrote the book.
The founders of The Community Company are authors of the new book Superconnector: Stop Networking and Start Building Business Relationships that Matter. It’s gotten great reviews in publications ranging from Forbes (“extremely effective”) to Fast Company (“gives you a competitive advantage”).
As the title suggests, this is not a book to help you collect more business cards at networking events. In fact, it’s pretty much the opposite.
“Our way of networking is not networking at all,” says cofounder Paugh. “It’s all about relationship building. It’s about creating a community around yourself.”
The members of Boston’s WeWork St. James started out by founding the invitation-only Young Entrepreneur Council for founders who are 45 and younger. It’s an elite group, as membership requires $1 million in financing or annual revenue. In the words of one of its members, YEC is “the most high-impact group of young entrepreneurs on the planet.”
YEC is still an integral part of the business, but The Community Company has grown considerably. Partnering with Forbes Media, it helped to create Forbes Councils, which has blossomed into more than a dozen communities for top business leaders and executives.
“One thing learned talking with entrepreneurs — really anyone who is ambitious and has that drive — is that the business world can be lonely, whether you’re an entrepreneur on their own or somebody working really hard to climb the corporate ladder,” says Paugh.
Paugh and Gerber — close friends aw well as longtime business partners — have decided to go hyperlocal, starting community-based groups like the Forbes New York Business Council and Forbes Los Angeles Business Council. In the coming months, they’ll be adding new cities like Boston and Dallas.
“The team at WeWork is an extension of our own. We have become a part of the community culture here, and we’ll be a part of it for as long as we possibly can.”
“What we’ve built is a hub-and-spoke model where we provide community as a service to any brand, big or small,” says Paugh.
Helping them every step along the way has been WeWork. They were one of its first members when it opened in Boston, and have grown along with the company.
Paugh says it’s the service that has kept them satisfied since they first joined in 2014.
“In fact, we moved from South Station to St. James because of a staffer we really enjoyed working with,” says Paugh. “At the end of the day, it’s the people that make you want to write a check and become a member.”
Paugh says the staff really came through when he was on an important business trip to Charlotte.
“I realized that I didn’t have a power cord for my laptop, and the staff was on it immediately,” says Paugh. “A minute or two later they handed me a power cord so I’d have a productive day of working. It was a make or break moment for my company, and WeWork really came through.”