Monday, Jan. 4, 2010 | 3:59 p.m.
What is it about Richard Wilk that makes him one of the most connected people in Las Vegas?
Is it his background protecting high-level politicians? Is it his employment at one of the coolest hotels in the city? Is it something in the water in his native Toronto?
To hear him tell it, it's a lot simpler than that.
"My wealth is my networking," Wilk said. "If I go somewhere, I've got business cards on me 24/7. So you're going to get a card. I'm going to go after you, your friend and your friend's friend just to get them in."
As senior director for customer development, Wilk has made the Hard Rock Hotel the place to play for movie stars, musicians, athletes and high rollers. His BlackBerry bears the names of Hollywood's hottest A-listers, but his most memorable encounter came in 2002. That year, he arranged a tour of Jimi Hendrix memorabilia for the guitarist's father, Al, on his 82nd birthday. Al died two months later.
"The family called me afterward and said, 'You know what, he did something he always wanted to do and that was going into the Hard Rock to see all his son's memorabilia, and he said after that he was happy. You created that for him, so we thank you.'"