Keith Ferrazzi: “Never Eat Alone”

Never Eat Alone book on Success by FerrazziIn the eyes of Keith Ferrazzi, success – in our careers and in life – is all about relationships. Everything in our universe is related to everything else through a relationship. We must develop, establish and nurture our relationships in life.  We live in a fast paced life and a connected age, where the day’s minutes would be hard pressed to be further packed with communication and staying in touch. Ferrazzi is not immune to the pace of life. Living at the same fast space, he shares here an authentic approach to networking and building life’s relationships, one at a time.

Keith Ferrazzi did not grow up in a rich comfortable house. He did not accidentally end up in Harvard MBA school or as Deloitte & Touche Consulting partner. He did not stumble across Ferrazzi Greenlight. There is nothing accidental and everything planned in his success. His parents lived in rural Pennsylvania and both came from extremely modest backgrounds. Yet from his childhood, he had a special knack for relationships and connecting with the world around him.  In this book, Ferrazzi tells us why building relationships is the essence of lifelong success. In the process, he writes what I think is the most sensible approach to networking, even if he himself sets the bar extremely high by living his own advice.

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The essence of Ferrazzi’s success is not just networking. It is a 3-fold approach:
(1) network to build trust first
(2) help people before asking for favors
(3) do it all with sincerity

While Ferrazzi shares with us his own impressive ability to connect with the world around him, madly and constantly, there is a quality to his approach that puts him above the average book in its genre. It is his unabashed passion for networking with the right ethics and respect and for reasons beyond but not to exclusion of self-benefit.

“I learned that real networking was about finding ways to make other people more successful. It was about working hard to give more than you get.”

His sincere interest in helping others before thinking of his own success is exactly how he operates, and quite possibly, why he succeeds. To be truly interested in making yourself useful to others first, even if there is no return for your favors immediately, is his philosophy. While Ferrazzi’s advice is challenging to boil down to a phrase or two, this may whet the appetite to want to learn more about the underlying techniques:

The Genius of Audacity:

Not allowing the thought of limiting oneself creep into the mind. Being audacious and bold to refuse the thought of boundaries or limits.

“The choice between success and failure, it’s between choosing risk and striving for greatness, or risking nothing and being certain of mediocrity”

Build it before you need it:

Why would anyone think that building a relationship and immediately having a favor to ask can be foundation for a lasting one? Build the relationships early on, long before you may need them.

Don’t be the Networking Jerk:

Networking for the sake of networking is a turn-off and serves you no purpose. Do not be the networking jerk, or in the more colorful language of Ferrazzi: Avoid becoming the wall flower, the ankle hugger, the celebrity hound, the smarmy eye darter and card dispenser/amasser! Be yourself.

Doing your homework:

The advice of being prepared and knowing more about the person you will be meeting and showing genuine interest not just in what other people do, but how it may be reason to connect you with them. The driving factor in that approach should be ways you can help them along the way by something or someone that you know.

Pursuit of Wow:

Being above ordinary, interesting and good. Setting the bar of your life and your accomplishments high. Seeking greatness and a pursuit of Wow in everything you do.  If you find this irrelevant to networking, you could not be further from the truth. Living in such a way will attract you to everyone you meet.

Ferrazzi’s approach to networking in “Never Eat Alone” is original and effective. I started to put this advice into practice during the months that I traveled and attended countless meetings, social events, business breakfast-lunch-dinners. I already loved networking, and the advice from this book afforded me better skills. Much of the challenge with networking is the misconceptions – it is exactly everything you want it to be. It is as real or as fake, as fun or as boring, as effective or as big a waste of time as you make it out to be – but do not blame networking and building relationships when you have poor results. It is the approach and intent that needs to be revisited.

Because while many things in life are out of our control, building relationships – or avoiding them – just happens to be an area that we can play the field to our best advantage and control all the cards.