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Forbes: The New Currency Leaders Are Using To Build Empires On A Budget

Updated: Sep 28, 2022

Artificial intelligence is on the rise, cryptocurrency is dominating the news, and everywhere we look, technology is changing how we live and work.

To put it in perspective, becoming a leader requires access to other leaders. And, to access these leaders, learning and understanding what drives them is key.

“Cash is only king when you have access to the kingdom. So, when all else fails, just remember: Access is key.”

If you're one of the millions obsessed with reading about Bitcoin, blockchain or cryptocurrency, that's fantastic -- but that's not what this article is about. This article is about a different type of currency: the one used by startup founders and thriving thought leaders to rapidly gain popularity and profitability.

This article is about access currency. In business, access currency refers to the exchange of valuable goods, information and services under a mutually beneficial barter system. That means your access can be so valuable, it can procure gains without a monetary transaction.

Interestingly, what makes a leader stand out is their ability to demonstrate cleverness.

A huge part of being an effective leader is the ability to access the right people and information -- and the skills to leverage it all to your end goal.

Access has become a popular new form of currency quietly traded in the leadership space. It has the power to catapult your career, most importantly by getting you noticed and introduced to the right people.

The best part is, it's basically free. Money goes in, but no money goes out. It may take months or even a year to reap rewards, but the good news is you have plenty of time to plant many seeds.

The concept is fairly simple, and as long as you can muster some creativity, you'll be trading in no time.

In my line of work, surrounded by investors, journalists and entrepreneurs alike, I've seen first-hand how the access currency is traded. Executives trade their access for press and speaking engagements. Entrepreneurs trade their access for knowledge and introductions. Access circumvents traditional and expensive service providers, like public relations, that can quickly cost you a fortune. Access also lets you think for yourself, which sharpens your ability to negotiate with a value-driven mindset -- and not blindly pay full freight.

Ultimately, access trading taps into the "do-it-yourself economy," which is a breakthrough for leaders on the rise who aim to achieve objectives accurately and affordably. Compared to the services of boutique PR agencies, with access trading, you'd really harness the power of PR while potentially saving tens of thousands of dollars on your invoice.

Seeing this in action is priceless. It can be exhausting at times but attainable through some ingenuity and old-fashioned hustle.

Building an empire on a budget requires lots of talented and spirited leaders growing together. That's when sparks fly.

How I've Accumulated Access

I had an idea to have a Bentley Yacht Party during Fashion Week. However, I had no Bentley or yacht access.

Within days, I found my Bentley access point through a local Bentley dealership. The title of the idea alone peaked the interest of Bentley's corporate team, and I was able to get in touch with Bentley's North American marketing manager. Bentley committed $50,000 to sponsor the event, and a SoHo yacht company offered to sponsor the entire yacht party worth $160,000. Aside from a Metro card, this didn't cost me a thing -- not to mention, I got a bonus.

The mentality here is more collaborative by nature than your standard "pay to play" model. Learn how to flip the script by being a giver instead of a taker.

The psychology of giving is the nature of putting the other person's interests before yours. This is a breath of fresh air, especially for decision makers who constantly get pitched and asked for favors. And here you come along offering them favors.

When leaders recognize you for granting them access to something of value, for both personal and professional growth, you'd be surprised how fast that can get you services others have to pay for.

Of course, not everyone will want to trade all the time -- nor should they -- but "no" just stands for "next opportunity."

Here are five ways you can trade access:

1. Explore high-profile individuals, companies and conferences within your reach, and identify several valuable access points.

2. Use your imagination to think through how others can benefit from accessing valuable individuals or companies that are within your reach but their target. Be the vehicle that brings the two together, proving your value -- a simple, collaborative swap.

3. Dream big, and don't be afraid to offer ideas. We live in an age of innovation and collaboration. Decision makers welcome ideas that make them look good.

4. Think in terms of headlines: Imagine press-worthy events, partnerships, people and stories.

5. Now glue it all together. All it takes is the first piece of the puzzle to get others playing your game.

How You Can Accumulate Access

One of the easiest ways to get started is to attend a local networking event. Find one that's inexpensive and small-scale but high in caliber. Search for events with high-profile or well-connected speakers. During their talks, listen carefully, identify their needs and simply ask for their business card. Take a day to brainstorm how you can be of service. Email them praising their speech and mention that you may have a few speaking opportunities, if they're interested. Start a dialogue where you offer them a speaking engagement. Simultaneously spark relationships with companies or event organizers looking for speakers. Repeat.

Here's the idea in a nutshell: It's clear that access can be just as valuable as any currency. If you have access to people, places, companies and information that others do not, you have something valuable. How you use it is up to you.

I'm watching thought leaders and influencers quietly use their access to build credibility and profitability -- and you should, too. In short, they're building personal brands into empires and doing it on a budget.

Cash is only king when you have access to the kingdom. So, when all else fails, just remember: Access is key.

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