Keith Ferrazzi: Never eat alone

Nejc, a good friend of mine, gave me this book before my travel to Mexico. It opened my eyes, as I coul test networking in situ, on my first conference as a speaker. In its core it is a book about creating and  nurturing connections. It is a great read for 2 specific reasons: (a) making connections should be a lifestyle choice; (b) it is possible to cultivate a mindset and a set of skills to establish sincere and worthwhile relationships in today’s world. In the following chapters I will list some key findings.

Call to action

The books starts with asking the reader to define what do they really want to achieve in life. The author asks you to write a basic diagram of what you want and what you can do. What are your dreams and hopes. Things that bring you joy and pleasure. People, things, hobbies, that move you. Your strengths. Your weaknesses.

“being a connector is not about managing transactions, but about managing relationships.” (p. 8)

“I learned that real networking was about finding ways to make other people more successful. It was about working hard to give more than you get.” (p. 9)

“Every successful person I’ve met shared, in varying degrees, a zeal for goal setting. Successful athletes, CEOs, charismatic leaders, rainmaking salespeople, and accomplished managers all know what they want in life, and go after it.” (p. 23)

“A goal is a dream with a deadline.” (p. 25)

Making lists

Making lists is a big topic in managing your connections. Lists are important for many reasons: they give you an overview of your network and keep you accountable. There are many ways to organise list and what is important, is to keep the lists organised.

Types of lists:

  1. Personal: Family, old friends. They are on no lists.
  2. Customers.
  3. Prospects.
  4. Important business associates:  colleagues, connections from your industry.  
  5. Aspirational contacts: people you would like to meet.

Frequency of connections:

  1. Often, at least once a month.
  2. Casual acquaintances.
  3. Pinging once a year.

Birthdays are important. People are happy if you prepare somethings special just for them.

“In building a network, remember: Above all, never, ever disappear.”

“I think in today’s world the problem isn’t we have too many people in our lives, not too little.”

“People need “refrigerator rights” relationships. People, intimate friends, whom do you allow to go to your fridge.”

“Fill your life with people you care about and who care for you. You will need no work-life balance.”

On cold calls

They are horrible and it is ok to be afraid of making them. But they work and that’s why people still need to occasionally cold call. Try to have the following four points in front of you on making the calls:

  • Draft a reference (a common friend). This way you convey credibility.
  • State your value.
  • Talk a little say a lot. Set a deadline. This way you display urgency and convenience.
  • At the end, offer a compromise.

On the public conferences

If you can, help the organisers. At best, be the organiser.

Learn to speak (check the organisation toastmasters ).

Try to be the information source for food, parties, drinks. Get to learn the surroundings of the conference.

Deep bump. When you bump into someone, have something to say. Indicators of interest. Show vulnerability.

Start cloning events. Say you want to have dinner with two colleagues but only have one time available. Clone the dinner — invite them both. They may not know each other, but they could benefit from an introduction, and you get your time in with each. Wins all around.

“Of course, there are always fail-safe conversation starters suitable for every business function: How did you get started in your business? What do you enjoy most about your profession? Tell me about some of the challenges of your job? But safety— whether in conversation, business, or life— generally produces “safe” (read: boring) results.”

If you feel stuck with a person on a conference, and would like to move somewhere else, be honest, but nice. Try to say, for example: “There are so many wonderful people here tonight; I’d feel remiss if I didn’t at least try and get to know a few more of them. Would you excuse me for a second?”

“If all else fails, there is always the sentence: “You’re wonderful. Tell me more.”

“The follow-up I remember best is the one I got first.” The follow-up is the hammer and nails of your networking tool kit. When you meet someone new, follow up quickly. This is another of Ferrazzi’s keys: He suggests following up 12 to 24 hours after meeting someone. Be it a text, voice mail or phone call, just do it soon.

A follow-up suggestion I can relate to is to send people clippings that would benefit them. Maybe it’s a cartoon that will make them laugh or an article on a subject they love. As a researcher with hundreds of news alerts at work, I know the power of a timely update. It’s a great connector and shows people that they are on your mind.

On Mentoring:

“But in business, I found nothing came close to the impact of mentors. At every stage in my career, I sought out the most successful people around me and asked for their help and guidance.”

“In reality, people who have the largest circle of contacts, mentors, and friends know that you must reach out to others long before you need anything at all.”

“It helps to have an enlightened counselor, or two or three, to act as both cheerleader and eagle-eyed supervisor, who will hold you accountable. I call this group my Personal Board of Advisors.”

A successful mentoring relationship is composed of utility and emotion. You can’t just ask somebody to be emotionally invested in you. Your mentor should be also your coach. He should see your success also as his success.

It is important to give help first. If you can’t help directly, contribute to your methor’s cause. Tell why you are special. Express gratitude, excitement, passion.

On networking

Who are superconnectors. Contact them, offer your help.: Bloggers, Journalists, Politicians, PR people, Fundraisers, Lobbyists, Headhunters, Restauranteurs (p. 145)

“Your contacts need to see you in three channels: personally, per telephone, email. They NEED to know you per all three channels.”

“The best frequency is to contact them once a month. At least an email telling them you think of them.”

“To change contacts to friends you need to meet them in person at least twice.”

Make more dinner parties:

“Can’t join a club? Make your own.”

“Six to ten guests, I’ve found, is the optimal number to invite to a dinner.”

Practice shows thursdays are good days for dinners.

Think of a centerpiece for the table, something interesting.

Sit coupless separately.

Namecards: add a question or a quote.

Achor tennant: an older, wiser person, with different connenctions, who will attract other connections. His presence will light up the party. Journalists are good anchor tenants.

Send thank you emails with photos.

Online networks

Information loses value fast, and it is better to share it than hoard it. Share to the right people and make sure they know you

Best information resides in the weak ties on the periphery. The growing power of weak ties. Be aware of this fact. Thay are your information source, etc.

Become the canary in the mine. Be a sensor in the middle of your network, to be the first to deliver groundbreaking news. But be the king of content. Learn to write, and to writ well.

You need to build trust. it is the only currency you have. And if you want to build trust, you need to follow this formula: Trust = Generostiy + Vulnerability + accountability + candor.

The more you can be yourself, the more people will trust you. If you go honest to your colleagues and customers, you will immediately rise above competition.

Join conversations before you start them.

Email subject line should tease Utility and Curiosity.

Blend anecdotes with utility.

Go public with failure.

On engineering serendipity

In the past smart people followed money. Nowadays money follows smart people. It is on the look for creativity → innovation → profit.

Today’s goal of companies is to scale learning and master change

Context creates intent. Best relationships are made on common projects.

Upgrade your strenghts, dont focus (too much) on your weaknesses. Make a pareto distribution 80/20 (strenght/ weakness).

On personal branding

The most gripping stories are those concerning identity: who we are, where we come from, where we are going.

“Don’t think of business as pure rational calculation. Robots will take those businesses very soon.”

“A successful brand is a promise and a guarantee for a successfully done job.”

“To become a brand, you need to focus on providing added value. The pursuit of wow in anything you do.”

  1. Develop a personal branding message
    1. Your value proposition.
    2. What people think when they hear of you?
    3. What product/service can you best provide?
  2. Package the brand
    1. How do you present yourself?
    2. Everyone sees what you appear to be.
  3. Broadcast your brand.
    1. If you hide your accomplishments, they will remain hidden.
    2. If you dont promote yourself, no one will.
    3. Rules for promotion:
      1. go visual
      2. Sharing is caring (people like to share what arouses them; don’t be vanilla)
      3. Curation, not creation.

Random thoughts

“If you never ask, the answer is always no.”

“Respect the goalkeeper’s role and make them your friend.”

“If 80 percent of success is, as Woody Allen once said, just showing up, then 80 percent of building and maintaining relationships is just staying in touch.”

“Those that had built businesses and climbed the corporate ladder with amazing speed were those who could confidently make conversation with anyone in any situation.” (p. 145)

“Real power comes from being indispensable… coming from being a switchboard, parceling out as much information, contacts, and good will to as many people – in as many different worlds – as possible.” (p. 174)

“The ability to distribute knowledge in a network is fairly easy to skill to learn. “

“To paraphrase Dale Carnegie: You can be more successful in two months by becoming really interested in other people’s success than you can in two years trying to get other people interested in your own success.” (p. 177)

“Life is about work, work is about life, and both are about people.” (p. 293)

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