Dubbed by both Forbes and Inc. as one of the world’s most “connected” individuals, Keith Ferrazzi learned from an early age the importance of networking. Growing up in a small town in Pennsylvania with a dad working in a steel plant and a mother who was a cleaning lady, Ferrazzi’s upbringing was far away from one with blue blood and silver spoons. Despite–or maybe thanks to–their modest life, Ferrazzi’s dad knew the power of networking and how generosity is the cornerstone of success, both notions that helped his son get a scholarship to an Ivy League school.
In “Never Eat Alone” (Broadway Business) Ferrazzi reveals his recipe for success, spotlighting networking as the must-do activity. If your idea of networking comes close to the scene in “American Psycho” in which executives glad-hand snazzy business cards, think again: Networking is less about forcing business cards on everybody and more about building genuine relationships. Don’t think of what others can do for you; think of what you can do for them.
By being generous with yourself, whether it’s helping someone get a job or simply connecting two people with mutual interests, your chances of becoming success increases. The key, though, is to never expect anything in return, or to keep score. It’s not just about getting what you want, but also making sure the people who matter to you also get what they want.
If you want to be successful, you need to not only study the experts but also surround yourself with them. Want to be a CEO (one of Ferrazzi’s goals before becoming one)? Seek out one or many and get familiar with them. Attend conferences or join clubs and organization where like-minded individuals dwell. And once you’ve established a relationship with someone, nurture that connection. Ferrazzi suggests to always “ping,” which involves reaching out to your contacts all the time, not just when you need something. Remembering someone’s birthday or simply sending a short e-mail can strengthen the bond with your contacts, Ferrazzi says.
Agreeing with the idea that it’s nice to be important, but it’s important to be nice, Ferrazzi emphasizes that those you meet on your move up the career ladder will be the same you meet on your (potential) descent down. Being pleasant is not only about common courtesy, but as Ferrazzi soberly points out, “People do business with people they know and like.”
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