THE BLOG
06/21/2012 05:07 pm ET | Updated Feb 02, 2016

Connecting the Dots: dot429 LGBTA Professional Network

2012-06-20-D0T1.jpgdot429 -- Connecting with the World's Largest LGBTA Professional Network

A few months ago a dear friend asked me, Have you heard about dot429? When I responded in the negative, my drama queen of friend clutched his imaginary pearls as if he were the Dowager Countess of Grantham in sheer disbelief. He immediately whipped out his trusted iPhone and took me straight to dot429's lively and engaging website. While I was instantly drawn in by their tagline, "Connect with the World's Largest LGBTA Professional Network," I also found myself a wee bit skeptical about joining a social media website for gays.

In all honesty, as a married man in a committed relationship for over 10 years, I find a lot of the social networking tools or platforms used solely by the LGBT community a bit foreign. I can still remember the first time a young single friend showed me GRINDR and I thought I would just about pass out. And this is coming from someone who is far from ever being considered a prude. While I could appreciate the advancement in technology this application provides, I was completely unprepared for the close proximity at which a potential dalliance could be found lurking just a stone's throw away. So you must forgive me if I didn't run home and start screaming from the rooftops, Join dot429! Without thorough research, who knows? I may have found myself connecting the dots in more ways than I had ever imagined.

However, after further investigation and several more "Have you heard about dot429?" queries, I decided that it was high time I got to the bottom of this.

According to the ABOUT section on their website, dot429 is a multi-platform network connecting LGBT professionals and Allies online and in person (at least this cleared up the mysterious A that had silently crept up behind the Transgender). Founded by 500 of the most successful and influential LGBTA entrepreneurs, business people, designers, and entertainers, dot429 serves as a go-to destination for the LGBTA professional set. dot429 provides an opportunity for this community to connect and expand their business networks, further their careers, stay current on the latest happenings in the LGBTA professional community, and more.

While this information was all find and dandy, I really needed to see how one could be invited to one of these exclusive events I had also been hearing so much about. At this point I needed to be front and center at a dot429 VIP affair. And as my luck would have it, through the power of traditional social media as well as bit of good old fashion social climbing, I received an invite to attend the inaugural event for the dot429Penthouse in the swanky and artsy Soho area of New York City.

Still skeptical and not knowing what to expect... I take that back. What I was actually expecting was some sort of gay 2.0 version of Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut with a bit of La Cage Aux Folles thrown in for good measure. But what I discovered was something absolutely different -- something wonderful, professional and elegant.

2012-06-20-DOT4.jpgdot429Penthouse Soiree

Let me tell you, these gays, gals and allies really know how to throw a shindig. From the moment you arrive at the ritzy address, you are welcomed by a strapping security team and an elegantly frocked hostess holding the list. If your name is on the list you are squired upstairs by an awaiting elevator attendant who wishes you a magical evening as you exit the lift and into the space. But if your name is not on the list, you are graciously redirected while being given the old heave-ho.

Upon entering the approximately 5,000 to 6,000-square foot penthouse triplex that the goodfolks of dot429 have leased for the entire summer, my eyes and ears were immediately mesmerized by the eclectic mix of guests and languages. The palatial property was completely decked out with amazing home furnishings, artwork and a library fit for a king, or queen. While there were some familiar faces in the room, I must admit that a great number of the guests in attendance were complete strangers, and for me -- this was a great thing.

It's strange, in a city with 8,000,000 people, it seems as though you only see the same 100 people over and over. It's as if the worlds of fashion, art and entertainment share the same guest list and they just recycle it for every event. But this was different. This was social media transferred to brick, mortar and flesh at its finest. The room was filled with doctors, lawyers, fashion designers, artists, journalists, CEOs, CFOs and every other acronym one could use to define professional and accomplished. People were being formally introduced and casually connected all over the place. And instead of people asking if he or she were on facebook, they were saying, You can find me on DOT. I thought this was the coolest thing of all.

As the sublime cocktails flowed and the delectable hors d'oeuvres were quietly passed, I couldn't help but wonder who came up with this brilliant idea? Who had the vision and mission that it was time for the LGBT community to join forces with our straight allies and to build something this extraordinary? But just as I thought it, someone I had just met less than five minutes before came over and asked, "Have you met Richard? He's the guy who started this whole thing."

2012-06-20-DOTRICHARDKLEIN.jpgRichard Klein, dot429's CEO

Richard Klein it seems has one of those impressive resumes that one can only have written and memorialized on a plaque for $199.99 from the ad-hoc team at Who's Who's in America, with the exception being, every word of his bio is true.

Mr. Klein is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University with a degree in architecture and design. After his studies he went on to serve as design manager for the New York City School Construction Authority. Richard later relocated to San Francisco where he became an art director at Macy's West specifically working with Macy's magazine. It was during this period he also began numerous relationships within the design community. By merging his innate ability to cultivate and curate pioneering local talent he created the Surface Gallery. Legend has it that through viral marketing and weekly events the gallery gained increased popularity and eventually morphed into the iconic Surface magazine.

After 18 years of launching their first issue, Surface has become the focal point for a loyal community of design enthusiasts and opinion-leading readers that reside in well over 200 countries. In 2008, Richard oversaw the licensing of the Surface brand to a Beijing publishing company -- and Surface China was born. Over the last year, Richard's focus has been building a new brand. He has lead the launch of dot429 and is currently operating as the brand's CEO.

On this particular night, I only had a brief moment to meet our gracious host but I watched and admired him as he skillfully connected the dots and engaged with each person that entered or exited the soiree.

As the LGBT community and our allies around the world celebrate the 43rd anniversary of gay pride and equal rights since the Stonewall Riots, dot429 has organized a string of charitable events from San Francisco to New York City. As a newly confirmed premier member of dot429, I for one will be in attendance as well as logged in with the hopes of building a brighter and more prosperous future for the LGBTA community at large.

All photos courtesy of www.dot429.com

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