Profile: Chris Pirillo

At first glance, Lockergnome might appear to be just another set of technology newsletters, Pirillo.com could seem like internet marketing hype, Gnomedex just another geek convention, and RentMyChest.com a silly internet gimmick.

But talk to Chris Pirillo, the creator of this internet empire, or to some of his loyal readers (“gnomies”, as they call themselves), learn how this all came into existence, and you quickly come to the conclusion that Chris Pirillo may be perhaps the greatest online networker on the planet. And he’s done it all independent from the recent surge of online networking communities.

It’s no stretch to say that Chris Pirillo has a personal network of about a million people. He is one of the few people in the world to ever be able to monetize membership in his inner circle (at a stunning $97 a month, which many people are paying, because of the tremendous unique value provided). And how many people hold an annual convention of their personal network? Herb Allen’s Sun Valley Retreat comes to mind, but that’s about it.

Again, this could be just another technology business, were it not for Chris’s radically different philosophy and approach. Chris writes in the first person, sharing his personal experience of technology and how it affects his and his readers’ lives. And while he has a little bit of help now, it’s still basically a one-man show—Chris produces all the content and keeps in direct personal touch with many of his readers, readily publishing his e-mail and instant messaging ID to subscribers.

As Pirillo says in his short autobiography, “They understand that I’m not some guy sitting in an office pounding away at a computer because it’s my job. My writing comes across in a personal way—I talk about my ‘non-computer’ life all the time, and most find that approach refreshing. It’s nice to know your favorite author has a life outside of his writing. I’m a real person, and my subscribers know and respect that. I don’t fake my friendliness—I’m from Iowa. We’re all born that way.”

And while it has not brought him financial fortune, he makes a comfortable living at it. Perhaps more importantly, it has opened doors for many other opportunities. He has been a host on Tech TV, and now has a regular column in Computer Power User. Most recently, he was asked to co-author Online!, a whopping 688-pager, with John Dvorak due out October 24. When pressed as to exactly how he leveraged his network for these kind of opportunities, he replies, “It just happens.”

But regardless of the finances of it, Pirillo finds his work immensely satisfying. This can be attributed primarily to his truly inspiring philosophy: “I have a mission to help others, and I’m succeeding every day. Some people measure success in money. I measure it in relationships.”