I was first turned on to Keith Ferrazzi while doing Dallas Travers’ Actors Business Breakthrough last year. She shared an article with us about how he had built his rolodex and his business through his unique approach to networking which was extremely compelling. So when I had the opportunity to grab a free copy to the Expanded and Updated Edition of his classic book Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time, I jumped at the opportunity.
If there is one thing that I’ve learned over the years, talent and hard work can only get you so far. So much of the rest of the opportunities in life boil down to who you know, and how you leverage those relationships. But how do you get to know more people without feeling like a phony?
This book took me a really long time to read, in part because it is written a lot more like a how-to manual than a cover to cover read. In Keith’s words “You’ll get the most from this book if your desire to learn is exceeded only by your willingness to act.” With advice to follow on every page, I made extensive highlights and know that I will be returning to this book many times as I continue to grow in my community building skills.
To be effective in building a community, Keith repeatedly emphasizes that you must have courage and be willing to be audacious. You must put yourself out there, time and time again, with the understanding that you have something to give and that your greatest successes will come out of the people that you meet and what you create together.
Growing up I was a bit of a loner after several instances of supremely awkward friend seeking let downs. As such, it takes incredible effort sometimes for me to reach out to others. Nonetheless, I am very aware that there are so many things that simply cannot be accomplished alone!
While I’ve realized that “networking” does not have to mean losing my authenticity or that I somehow must become the most popular person, thinking about it still gets me a little squeamish. After all, aren’t some people just better at making friends, while the rest of us are left in the wake of their naturally confident strides?
I’m grateful to say that the optimism with which I approached this book was not unfounded. There is ample advice to be found here for those who are more naturally introverted and extroverts alike.
Some of the more memorable points Keith makes in the book as a whole include:
- Real networking is about finding ways to make other people more successful.
- Be generous, but don’t be afraid to ask others for their generosity either. You must be as willing to ask for help as you are to give it.
- Don’t hoarde your connections. Make connections in order to to share them with others.
- Stop romanticizing independence and autonomy. They will hold you back from your greatest successes.
- Spend more time with fewer people. You’ll have more meaningful dialogues which are more likely to turn into long-term relationships.
Want to get to know people who seem far above you in status? He offers advice aplenty. Everything from doing your research and how to handle cold calls, to managing the gatekeeper is touched on.
This revised edition also contains an entire fourth section devoted to “Connecting in the Digital Age” as well as references to interacting via the web and social media, which have evolved as major influencers on our lives and how we meet people since his first edition. While I can’t account directly for the changes (not having read the first edition), I appreciated some really unique insights and ideas he shares about how to build real relationships via social media and email.
By far the most enjoyable part of this book, however, are the countless stories Keith tells to illustrate how both “real people” and celebrity figures have expanded their sphere of influence. And its not in the “creepy jerk” way you might think. His list of 6 ways to NOT be a jerk had me chuckling. The people who don’t follow these tomes are where networking’s bad wrap truly comes from. The truth is that networking is about building a community, not amassing business cards. Which is a huge relief for me my communication style.
In the process of reading this book, I began to feel noticeably more confident and empowered with my interactions with people, both in person and on the web. If you, like me, find networking to be challenging at times, this is a must read. But even if you are more naturally a people person, like Keith, I’m certain that you’ll find even more insights in this book to build your community and reach even greater heights of success!
Note: I got this book free from Blogging for Books. All the opinions contained herein are my own.
I’m giving away one free copy of “Never Eat Alone” to one lucky reader (includes shipping if you are in the USA or a meetup over coffee if you are in NYC). A winner will be picked from all entries received by Wednesday February 18th at 11:59pm EST.
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