Reviewed by Marcia Woodard
So, you’ve heard that it’s not what you know, but who you know that matters. Author Keith Ferrazzi couldn’t agree more. In his bestseller, Never Eat Alone and Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time, Ferrazzi reveals the secret to building an extraordinary network of who’s who.
In this solid but easy-to-read, 298-page relationship primer, Ferrazzi provides you with a refreshing look at the age-old business practice of networking. Ferrazzi, a consummate networker who has been heralded by both Forbes and Inc. magazines as one of the world’s most connected individuals, asserts that one’s network is tantamount to one’s net worth. The self-described optimist believes that everyone has the capacity to be a connector and says, “Connecting is one of the most important business—and life—skill sets you’ll ever learn.”
Early in the book, Ferrazzi works to distinguish between the crude, business card–pushing tactics often associated with traditional networking and his more ardent style of connecting with others. He defines his style of connecting as “sharing knowledge and resources, time and energy, friends and associates, and empathy and compassion in a continual effort to provide value to others, while coincidentally increasing your own.” Then, in subsequent chapters, Ferrazzi distills his savvy approach for forging relationships that boost career and personal success. That approach comprises the following seven key steps:
Create a networking action plan. Write down your goals. Identify the people who can help you achieve your goals. Determine the best way to reach out to those people who will help you accomplish your goals.
Build it before you need it. Building trust takes time; don’t wait until you’re out of a job, or on your own, to begin reaching out to others. Ferrazzi asserts that others around you are far more likely to help you if they already know and like you.
Ping constantly. Call them. E-mail them. Write them. Ferrazzi says that 80 percent of building and maintaining relationships is just staying in touch. He says that it’s imperative to reach out to those in your network all the time, not just when you need something.
Perfect the art of small talk. Ferrazzi contends that the more successfully you use language, the faster you can get ahead in life. He suggests you learn how to make conversation with anyone in any situation.
It’s more blessed to give. Ferrazzi says that real networking is not about greed but generosity. You gain trust by asking not what people can do for you, but what you can do for them to make them more successful.
Don’t keep score. Ferrazzi states that there is little point to keeping track of favors done and owed. He contends that if your interactions are ruled by genuine generosity, your rewards will follow suit.
Follow-up or fail. Ferrazzi desc-ribes follow-up as the hammer and nails of your networking tool kit. He recommends emphasizing both your desire to meet again and your offer to help. Give others a reason to want to follow-up with you, he says.
With colorful anecdotes and thought-provoking truths, Ferrazzi masterfully connects with you by sharing from the pages of his own social memoir. He recounts that as the son of a small-town steelworker and a cleaning lady, he first used his connecting skills to pave his way via personal connections and a scholarship to Yale University, before going on to Harvard for an M.B.A.
Ferrazzi says that achieving your goals is less about how smart you are, how much talent you have, or where you come from and how much money you have, but more about knowing the right people, for the right reasons and using the power of those relationships to become a “member of the club.” After graduation, Ferrazzi went on to become, all before the age of 40, chief marketing officer for both management consulting giant Deloitte & Touche L.L.P. and hospitality conglomerate Starwood Hotels and Resorts, and CEO of Knowledge Universe, a $4 billion education company created in 1996 by brothers Michael and Lowell Milken and Oracle founder Larry Ellison, and YaYa Media. He admits tapping his network of contacts to help him realize how to be his best. Ferrazzi says his best has come to include having met some of the world’s most prominent leaders, leading his own marketing and training firm, Ferrazzi Greenlight, and a network of more than 5,000 contacts who will answer their phone when he calls.
Never Eat Alone is a must-have if you’re looking to leverage relationships for the mutual benefit of yourself and others.