Ken Vinikoff Starts Networking Group for Grateful Dead Fans


September 13, 2016

Skylight’s Ken Vinikoff, Financial Planner, has launched a business networking group for fans of the Grateful Dead called Networking is Dead which is hosting its inaugural event on Thursday, September 22, from 6-9pm at Skylight Penthouse in Ohio City.

Modeled after a similar organization in New York, Ken has enlisted the help of a number of local business professionals and Dead fans, to help him with this exciting new venture.  Here we catch up with Ken to find out a little more.

What sparked the idea of Networking is Dead?

I read about a similar organization in NY and thought wow I want to be part of this and that it would be a great idea for Greater Cleveland!  Music is a bond for so many people, especially Deadhead fans. There’s just a certain something we have in common and I thought it would be fun.  So I phoned the founder of Dead aHead in NY, Deborah Solomon, and had a good long chat with her about their organization and vibe and then brought up the idea about setting up Networking is Dead in Cleveland with my Deadhead friends. They thought it was a cool idea and wanted to be involved.  So here we are!

What makes it different to other networking organizations?

It’s about bringing like-minded people together who share a passion for the Grateful Dead’s music.  Other networking organizations are mostly themed around professional interests but we’ll share something in common at a personal level.  Rather than starting conversations about the weather or where you work, people will be having conversations about things like their favorite Deadhead song or their favorite concert.  Also rather than holding formal events where people hand over business cards, we want to create a fun and friendly culture, like that of the Grateful Dead, where people get to know each other and look out for each other.  If this then leads to business then well and good but the spirit is about community, fun and connecting at a personal level.

When was your first Dead show?

It was on May 8th, 1980 at Glen Falls, New York when I was a senior in High School.  I missed a concert the year before and I certainly wasn’t going to miss one again.  The show was a blast and I was blown away by the amazing vibe.  Everyone was so friendly and nice to their neighbors.  From then on I was hooked and I’ve seen between 20 and 25 shows since.  I loved that, unlike other touring bands, they didn’t work off a pre-rehearsed set but had a more improvisational approach to their music.  As a result, some shows I went to were unbelievably good and others not so but the audience was always cool with that.  They understood the band was trying to do something different and could see them as real people.  There was a real freedom to it.

What’s your favorite Dead song?


Tell us a little about your inaugural event?

The event will feature beautiful views of downtown and plenty of Grateful Dead music.  The ticket price covers an open bar (craft beer and wine), grill menu provided by Crop Bistro (gourmet burgers, hot dogs, slaw, chips) and a swag bag with Dead giveaways.  Ticket details are provided below if you’re interested in coming along.  As part of the registration, you’ll be asked your favorite Dead song and keyboardist.

What other events have you planned?

We’re planning quarterly get-togethers and some purely social events such as seeing local jam bands.  The original Dead may be gone but there are a ton of great bands keeping the Dead vibe alive.  We’ll find out what people are interested in, venues they like and continue to make friends and grow bonds.  I’ve also launched a Facebook page and started a LinkedIn group page to get the word out and share Grateful Dead memories with followers.

Is the networking group exclusive to Dead fans?

I think you have to like music and liking the vibe really helps.  As I mentioned, we are not a business networking group only – we all share a common love of the Grateful Dead and that’s what connects us.

Thanks Ken for sharing with us and we wish you every success!