Meet Tampa's networking heavyweights
If you've ever mingled at a chamber of commerce mixer or watched dignitaries turn shovels at a groundbreaking, you've probably met Ron Weaver or Aakash Patel.
There are no studies on the subject, but the two Tampa businessmen may be the area's best business networkers with more than 15,000 contacts each.
The two shared a few secrets of their networking prowess with the Tribune recently, including how they remember all those names.
Weaver, 63, is a partner in the law firm Stearns Weaver Miller Weissler Alhadeff & Sitterson and one of the region's most prominent land-use lawyers. During the holiday season, he may hit three or four networking events a night and sees it as a challenge to crisscross the Tampa Bay area in time to visit each.
He learns scoops about proposed real estate developments, often well before they're publicized, which is key for a land-use lawyer.
“I'm so grateful (for the invites), I'd hate to let them down,” Weaver said.
Weaver amazes with his ability to recall the names of contacts, their spouses and their children, even weeks or months after meeting someone.
Patel, 29, is the upstart of the pair. He started a small Tampa consulting firm, Elevate Inc., that helps companies with public and government relations and with event planning. Previous jobs include PR positions with a local apartment developer and a high-end Tampa hotel.
Less prominent than Weaver, Patel nonetheless is turning heads with his ubiquity at local public affairs functions and his ability to get on the schedules of local celebrities and business leaders. For example, he and a few friends in their 20s and 30s recently held a business lunch at Timpano Italian Chophouse in South Tampa.
Among those who showed up for the intimate lunch were Alan List, chief executive officer of H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers legend Derrick Brooks.
How does he do it?
“I have confidence and persistence, and if you don't ask, you don't get,” Patel said.