This week I want to share another book from my personal “Best of Business” list. It’s called Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi.
Why do I love this book? For me, it takes the “work” out of “networking.” Never Eat Alone’s mantra is “relationships rule.” Instead of meeting people with the underlying goal to “get something” from them, your goal is to create real and lasting relationships.
Maybe this isn’t rocket science for you, but it was a lightning bolt for me. I spent 15 years in the corporate marketing and sales trenches, at dozens of sales training seminars. Nearly all of them treated networking like a zero-sum game. Either you used all the trainer’s techniques and you hooked ’em! Or you failed. (With the underlying message that it was because you didn’t use their techniques properly.)
Never Eat Alone changed that for me. Keith Ferrazzi’s message is all about shifting your mindset from the me-focused “what can I get from this person” desperation position to a cooler, more genuine (and much more fun!) approach. Ferrazzi shares his journey from Pennsylvania son of a steelworker father and cleaning woman mother, to Yale University and Harvard MBA and then youngest Chief Marketing Officer of a Fortune 500 company.
His success fuel? Relationships.
Ferrazzi believes in focusing on the entirety of the person – getting to know him or her on a deep level to create lasting human connections.
For me, this shift was the magic trick I needed. Focusing on the NEA mindset – and not on a networking notch on my belt – lets me indulge my rampant curiosity and fascination with people. I get to revel in discovery and connection, rather than feeling distracted and uncomfortable because of some unconscious agenda.
But Keith didn’t become a Harvard MBA grad and Fortune 500 executive solely on the strength of his smile. He’s also fiercely productive and systematic in his relationships.
Here is Ferrazzi’s four step process for relationship-building at events:
As soon as you can during your initial conversation, move the conversation to the person’s deeper passions. Rock climbing, marathon running? KIVA? A Harley enthusiast who recently started breeding Yorkies? (No, that’s not a purposefully quirky example, that’s my uncle.) Get to know that person.
2. Follow Up. Immediately.
If you’re like most people, you wait until your back in your office, after quelching the 13 fires that have ignited in your absence. And then you know what happens…the stack of business cards gets shoved to the back of your pencil drawer until it feels awkward to “follow up.” Then, it’s like you never went to the event, never met those individuals who have the potential to make your life and your business infinitely richer.
Here’s what Keith does: he goes up to his room on a break or in the evening and fires off emails to each person he met. The messages are short. They include some pithy reference of the conversation to pique the recipient’s memory and they promise a follow up at a specified period of time.
3. Follow Up by Giving.
The next contact always involves Keith giving or sharing something with that individual. An introduction, an article, a resource.
4. Ping periodically.
It’s here that you really get to see that Ferrazzi is an guerrilla business operator, too, not just a nice guy (which he totally is.) He sets up a reminder to reach out to that person on a regular basis. And he does it.
Your fame building assignment:
Armed with this new approach and system, work on becoming a superconnector in your community or industry. This week, no matter where you are, make it your goal to have authentic conversations with the people around you. And then, follow up with them by giving.