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Networking advice: Have a Plan

I picked this book up a few years back when I was in a store looking for another book. The title made me smile. Being an introvert, I have no problem eating alone, but being an entrepreneur, I understand the value of networking!

Like many of the books I buy, it sat on the shelf for a while. I have a habit of buying two, reading one, buying two more. Still, it gives me great pleasure knowing that there are opportunities just waiting for me an arm's length away. I had just finished Switchers and was looking for a new read, and as I was scanning the bookcase, Never Eat Alone caught my eye. It was time!

I am so glad I read Keith Ferrazzi's book. He is a master networker. He's made a career of it. He definitely gave me some new perspectives on the topic, a topic that I have presented workshops on multiple times. While I admit to skimming parts that seemed a bit too self-promoting, I read with interest the strategies Ferrazzi employed.

"It's the value you bring that makes people want to connect with you." p.12

Ferrazzi has developed what he calls a Relationship Action Plan. It has three parts:

Part 1: develop your goals (short-term and long-term) and write them down. Place your goals where you will see and review them often.

Part 2: identify the people, places and things that will help you achieve your goals.

Part 3: identify the best way to reach out to the people who will help you accomplish your goals, and find a way to be generous to each and every person you reach out to.

Regarding Part 3, reaching out to people: Ferrazzi researches all of the people he wants to meet. He reads their posts, articles, websites, etc. His goal in meeting these people is to develop friendships with them. His follow-up plan is to stay connected.

"80 percent of building and maintaining relationships is just staying in touch." p. 195

Things that Keith does that I will never do: persistent cold calling, hosting monthly dinners, approaching conferences like a military campaign. He's a marketing expert. His book outlines his cold calling, conference attending and dinner hosting strategies in great detail, so if you are game, follow his lead. But personally, I think you have to be more extroverted than I am to be comfortable with everything Keith does.

Here is a list of advice that Ferrazzi provides in his book that makes it worth reading:

· Relationship Action Plan (RAP), Chapter 3

· 4 rules for cold calling, p. 86

· How to "Be a Conference Commando," all of chapter 14

· Steps to making small talk, p.161

· 11 steps to throwing successful dinner parties, pp. 208-215

· 10 tips for becoming an expert at anything, pp. 281-285

· 3 steps to building your brand, pp. 294-297

I was surprised that Keith and I have the same policy on making LinkedIn connections, he being an extrovert and me being an introvert. On p. 233, Keith writes, "Connect only to people whom you know enough about to feel confident introducing them to others in your network."

Connectors' Hall of Fame

Almost every chapter ends with a highlight of a person who is/was especially good at networking. Some of the people featured include: Eleanor Roosevelt, Katharine Graham, the Dalai Lama, Brene Brown, Paul Revere, Dale Carnegie. Keith also points out the types of people who are especially good at networking--fundraisers and politicians, for example. And he sums up his advice very well at the end of Chapter 16: "In one word: connect. In four better words: connect with the connectors."

Final Word

This book is substantial, and there's a lot to digest. At one point while reading I was having a hard time staying motivated to continue, and I almost quit. Then I came to the Chapter entitled, "Be Interesting." Chapter 25 was interesting enough to get me over my mental block and finish the book.

This is a definite must read if you want to improve your networking skills.

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