Network gratefully forms ‘Dead’ connections
by Dan Holland
For Broadview Heights resident and local business owner Ken Vinikoff, dead is where all the fun is.
As the founder of Networking is Dead – an association of like-minded locals who are all fans of the Grateful Dead founded in fall 2016 – Vinikoff was looking to meet new people for friendship, networking, music events, and perhaps even make a few business connections.
There are no annual fees to become a member of the group, which hosts two major music events each year to raise money for local charity organizations.
“It helps to like the Grateful Dead, and we want people to be kind,” Vinikoff explained. “Our fundraisers focus on keeping the money for nonprofit groups in Northeast Ohio. At our last event, we raised money for the Journey Center of Ohio, which is the largest area agency that deals with domestic violence and child abuse. The time before that, at our event at the House of Blues, we had Sugar Magnolia play, and we raised money for the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center.”
Vinikoff, who runs Common Goal Financial, a financial planning company in Independence, along with his friend Dave Lowery, gained the idea after joining a similar group based in New York City called “The Secret Society of Deadheads.”
“After a while, I realized I wasn’t going to make many business connections in New York City, and my wife suggested creating a similar group in Cleveland,” said Vinikoff. “I thought there certainly must be a group in Cleveland for fans of the Grateful Dead that I could join, but there really wasn’t. So, we decided to start one here.”
The group currently numbers more than 500 members along with 1,500 followers on its social media page. A band events calendar is maintained on the group’s website in coordination with the Northeast Ohio Jam Band Scene social media page. The site lists local events featuring Grateful Dead tribute acts as well as many “jam bands,” bluegrass and Americana acts.
The group is managed by Vinikoff along with his wife, Sally Spitz, Dave Lowery and Melisa Freilino. Other events have included a sip and paint, candle making event and pastry-making event all held at local businesses, with Grateful Dead music playing in the background.
“One of the things we do, is we bring an opportunity for people to get together with like-minded folks to meet new people and establish relationships and friendships that may or may not lead to business opportunities,” said Vinikoff. “We create an opportunity for people to share stories, network and maybe even do some business together.”
Fostering a sense of kindness and an awareness of local nonprofit groups is a key goal, he added.
“The idea that we can have a fun time at a concert, have raffle prizes, and pass those funds and proceeds back to a local non-profit is very rewarding,” Vinikoff continued. “Some people get out of it a ‘feel-good’ sense in knowing that the money is going to an important local cause. It’s not a money-maker at all for us.”
“I want Networking is Dead to be a place where people can find their tribe, and can do good along the way,” he added. “At the end of the day, if we can help people connect, establish relationships and also do some good in the community, I think that’s awesome.”
The group’s next music event will be held April 22 at Brothers Lounge and will feature the groups GRAV and Orazen Tavern Band. For information, visit networkingisdead.net. ∞