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top 10 traits of silicon valley dynamosExcerpt from Book: Top 10 Traits of Silicon Valley Dynamos 
Build Your Network - with Cesar Plata
by Joan Clout-Kruse ©2001. Printed with permission.

A Key to Success is not what you know or who you know. It's who knows YOU! - Cesar Plata|

Who do you know that can help you achieve your goals? Who do you contact to bounce off your ideas? Who knows enough about you to help you get what you want?

One person I know, Cesar Plata, is blazing trails in helping people connect with each other: Through his Web site www.muybueno.net, Cesar has developed an amazing network that informs and helps unite thousands of predominantly Bay Area Latino professionals, including many corporate, government and community leaders. From mechanical engineer to entrepreneur, this pioneer is pursuing his dream. - Joan Clout-Kruse

I had envisioned creating a hub to unite the Bay Area Latino professional community; this would provide a nucleus of information on events and resources related to business, community, culture, education, and entertainment. In addition to achieving this dream, I also host monthly professional socials to promote unity, business, education and leadership. These networking opportunities reduce exclusivity with the community because everyone is invited to become involved and join forces to work together. I also help promote underrepresented businesses and organizations to do business with each other, thus helping to develop the financial growth and empowerment of our community.

Note - I believe that achieving financial growth and community empowerment can be attained if there is a clear sense of unity, business, education, and leadership. In addition to these components, realize the importance of having savings accounts and setting money aside for emergency or future use. A task that is easier said than done but can be achieved by developing the right spending habits. As these factors are developed a lot of good things will surely happen in our community.

I realized that if more people became aware of the events taking place and the opportunities available to involve themselves in community activities - especially the mentoring of our youth - our community would naturally grow stronger and more united. We would also see a rise in the graduation rates of minority students.

This aspiration began as a hobby back in 1996. Initially, my service consisted of a weekly e-mail list of events, activities and resources that I believed would be of interest to several hundred of my friends, colleagues and acquaintances. By 1997, my hobby and idea had gained a substantial following throughout the Bay Area Latino community. In late 1998 I decided to pursue my dream of becoming an entrepreneur by transforming my hobby into a full-time business. Throughout 1999, I formed substantial partnerships with key organizations and businesses all over California. With the help of my friend Rheal Paquette we designed and launched our website www.muybueno.net. Gradually, media sources and, most importantly, word of mouth, have helped promote www.muybueno.net.

I recognized that people need to connect, not only online, but also in person, to enhance their opportunities for personal and business success. Hundreds of people regularly attend the monthly professional socials in San Jose and San Francisco. These are great venues to socialize with your peers, meet corporate and community leaders, and make new friends and business contacts in a friendly, fun, and comfortable environment. I truly believe the best business is personal business. People are more likely to do business with you if they feel comfortable with you and appreciate the services you provide. I also help several mentoring organizations by providing them with a list of more than a thousand professionals who have registered to volunteer as mentors, public speakers, workshop presenters and as board members of nonprofit organizations.

From personal experience, I recognized how important it is for people to share their goals, aspirations and resources with others. Associate yourself with success-oriented and positive people, and they will encourage and help you to succeed.

So far, several television and radio stations, as well as newspapers and magazines have featured www.muybueno.net and the monthly socials. Best of all, people promote www.muybueno.net by talking to each other about it. To date, my list of subscribers has grown to more than eight thousand. www.muybueno.net has surfaced as a true virtual and real community of professionals and leaders throughout the Bay Area.

As with anyone launching a startup business, I have endured many personal and financial sacrifices and struggles. I did not see these efforts as barriers; I accepted them as learning experiences. The way I see it, they were simply unmet challenges.

I strongly believe that a key to success is not what you know, or who you know, but who knows you! Following are a few comments submitted to the online guestbook that reinforce the concept that "it's who know you that matters."

"Cesar, I would like to thank you very much for your help with finding contact people and employers willing to provide summer jobs to our students. Ultimately, I was able to place all 60 students who qualified for the summer jobs program. Thank you again and I wish you well with all your great projects!" - Tony S., Industry Liaison, East Side Union High School District, San Jose, California

"The socials have brought us new business already. Your efforts to bring the community together are great!"
- Pamela D., Ideal Power Promotion, Manteca, California

"Last August we approached Cesar regarding an under-privileged youth at our school who desperately needed a bike. Cesar invited us to attend the San Jose Social and inform others of our situation. Several guests showed interest, and one of the event's sponsors from Allstate encouraged others to take note. So now thanks to three gentlemen who offered to buy Carlos a bike, getting to and from school is no longer an issue for Carlos. Thank you to all who responded, and especially to Cesar for allowing us to use this event. The five of you served as 'angels' for Carlos, and this gesture will stay in our hearts." - Elida A., San Jose, California

Make a name for yourself and let your reputation precede you. Enjoy what you do, do what is right, follow your passion, believe in yourself, and help yourself so you may in turn help others. The rewards will far exceed your efforts!

ACTIVITY:Developing Your Network of Contacts

Just as Cesar did, create your own list of contacts. Identify several positive, encouraging people who can help you get what you want.

1. Who in your circle of friends can help you achieve your goals? Identify why you think they can help. Be specific about how you might use their assistance. Knowing what their expertise is will be helpful to you.

Who in your circle of colleagues, coworkers and other professional contacts can help you achieve your goals? These may be people you don't know but whom you think could help.

Telephone the people listed above and ask for their help. Meet with them; share your ideas. Listen to their dreams and ideas, too. You may be amazed to see how the mutual support and respect you share with other constructive people can help you fulfill your goals. Let them tell you if they can help.

Start small with five names, and eventually increase your list until it's between 25 and 50 names of people you have personally contacted. One person said, "I don't know that many people whom I feel comfortable talking to. In fact, I don't even have ten names on my list." If that reflects your situation, I suggest you join some community organizations such as Rotary Club, Chamber of Commerce, Toastmasters, and the Optimists Club. Find out about other clubs in your community, too. Become actively involved in your community and get to know the people in it - in time you will have a list of 50-plus superachievers who would love to help you reach your dreams; and you, in turn, will help and support their dreams.
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