Achieving our goals is not only a function of how smart we are. It is a widely attributed to our network of connections.
“If 80 percent of success is, as Woody Allen once said, just showing up, then 80 percent of building and maintaining relationships is just staying in touch. “
The value of networking is not a new fact for me but all my previous ideas about networking are directed to being the “networking jerk” that we usually can recognize in every gathering or conference. The most annoying one who is trying to talk, regardless of how much meaningful this talk is, and exchange business cards with everyone.
Personally, I have never thought that networking can be a science with defined guidelines. This book, Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi provides straight-forward tips and rules for mastering the art of networking under four parts as the following.
Part 1: The Mind-Set
- Becoming a Member of the Club: Accept the fact that success is not only attributed to your IQ. It is also attributed to your networks and your ability to build and sustain the right relationships and connections; a circle of trustworthy, talented and inspirational people.
- Don’t Keep Score: remember that building relationship is like muscles. The more we use them, the stronger they become, therefore, the two side of the relationship equation is that we should be willing to ask for help when needed. At the same time, you have to be willing to help others when they approach you. In the end, it’s worthless to keep tracking favors; whether you gave them or you received them. Interactions should be ruled by generosity.
- What’s Your Mission? There are three generic steps to set goals and achieve them. Firstly, find your passion by looking inside (your self- assessment, your personal dreams and your interests) and looking outside (ask your friends and colleagues about your strengths and weaknesses). Secondly, putting your goals on paper. When doing so, use Networking Action Plan which consists of setting your goals that you believe will help you to fulfill your mission, connecting those goals to the people, the places and the things that you believe will help you to fulfill them, and lastly, reach out to the right people who you believe will help you to accomplish them. The last step of setting and achieving your goals is to create a Personal Board of Advisors; a group of trusted friends, family members and mentors who can help you on this journey.
- Build It Before You Need It: the most important thing about building your network is to make sure that you are doing that before you actually needed it; don’t’ wait until you are looking for a job or starting your own business. Even better if you are trying to make the most out of the connections that you already have.
- The Genius of Audacity: practice being audacious in social situations by finding a role model of an outgoing person, learn to speak in public (for example: join Toastmaster club), get involved with different groups of people (for hobbies, common interests …etc), and just do it and start talking and networking wherever you are.
- The Networking Jerk: protect yourself from being too annoying and a networking jerk by always trying to bring a meaningful and passionate conversation to the people you meet, not relying on gossips, and showing an extreme dose of respect for people who are under you.
Part 2: The Skill Set
- Do Your Homework: always remember that going into a meeting without Googling someone is unacceptable, and never be shy from the research that you have done.
- Take Names: search and identify the people that you would like to be part of your network, enter their names in a database and make sure you connect with them and reach out regularly. Those people can be: Relatives, Friends of relatives, All your spouse’s relatives and contacts, Current colleagues, Members of professional and social organizations, Current and former customers and clients, Parents of your children’s friends, Neighbors, past and present, People you went to school with, People you have worked with in the past, People in your religious congregation, Former teachers and employers, People you socialize with, People who provide services to you.
- Warming the Cold Call: if you can find another way to connect other than the cold call, then just do it. Try to use connections from your network to get you introduced directly to the people instead of calling them. If the cold call is a must, then use these four rules to warm the cold call: “1) Convey credibility by mentioning a familiar person or institution. 2) State your value proposition: what benefits you can provide. 3) Impart urgency and convenience by being prepared to do whatever it takes whenever it takes to meet the other person on his or her own terms. 4) Be prepared to offer a compromise that secures a definite follow-up at a minimum”.
- Managing the Gatekeeper—Artfully: usually you will deal with the gatekeeper, not the required person directly, so learn how to manage these people and turn them by your side.
- Never Eat Alone: set networking meetings for breakfast, lunch and dinner time so you use this time to build your relations.
- Share Your Passions: identify the things that you are truly passionate about and use that passion to guide you to which activities and events you should be seeking out.
- Follow Up or Fail: when you send a follow-up e-mail to someone, ask when a second follow-up meeting can be arranged.
- Be a Conference Commando: don’t be just a conference attendee; use them wisely to extend your professional network.
- Connecting with Connectors: the key is not only that we know thousands of people but that we know thousands of people in many different worlds, and we know them well enough to give them a call.
- Expanding Your Circle: you can do this by connecting your circle of the network with someone else’s.
- The Art of Small Talk: the best way to become good at small talk is not to talk small at all. When meeting someone new, be prepared to have something to say. Keep up with current events. Cultivate some niche interest. A single narrow specialty (cooking, golf, stamps) for which you have passion will have surprising expansive powers.
Part 3: Turning Connections into Compatriots
- Health, Wealth, and Children: there are three things in this world that engender deep emotional bonds between people. They are health, wealth, and children.
- Social Arbitrage: matching up the right people and the right opportunities. Once you do that, you will start to see the world this way, it opens up exciting opportunities. It’s both rewarding and fun.
- Pinging—All the Time: find a way to ensure that you’ll contact people regularly without putting too much strain on your schedule. Use e-mails, face to face meetings, and phone calls appropriately.
- Find Anchor Tenants and Feed Them: anchor tenants mean people who are in relation to a unique group of friends and know different people, hence, they have experienced different things, and have much to teach. You have to identify those people and make sure to include them in your next networking dinner or party.
Part 4: Trading Up and Giving Back
- Be Interesting: you are responsible for being someone worth talking to, and even better, worth talking about. Virtually everyone knew you meet in a situation is asking themselves a variation on one question: “Would I want to spend an hour eating lunch with this person?”
- Build Your Brand: no matter where you are, always make an effort to brand yourself as an innovator, a thinker, a salesman, and someone who could get stuff done.
- Broadcast Your Brand: show off your accomplishments and promote yourself.
- The Write Stuff: you can get close to almost anyone by doing a piece on them, or with them, even if it’s for your local newspaper. Develop and use your writing skills.
- Getting Close to Power: reach out important people that can make a difference in your life.
- Build It and They Will Come: be part of a group that is large than you; a family, colleagues, influencers …etc.
- Never Give in to Hubris: don’t forget to thank the people who helped you
- Find Mentors, Find Mentees, Repeat
- Balance Is B.S.: the best thing about a relationship-driven career is that it isn’t a career at all. It’s a way of living.
My Personal Action Plan from the Book:
- Find a mentor: usually, I find excellent mentorship and advice through books, movies, and TV shows but the most important action that I need to take right now is to find a real mentor whom I can connect with directly.
- Know my industry influencers and connect with them
- Work on my personal branding
- Make full use of the events and the conferences I attend. The author provided us with 10 rules to become a conference commando:
- Help the Organizer (Better Yet, Be the Organizer)
- Better Yet, Speak
- Organize a Conference Within a Conference
- Draft Off a Big Kahuna: get to know the most popular man or woman at the conference—the one who knows everyone
- Be an Information Hub
- Master the Deep Bump: The bump is the two minutes that you’re given when you meet someone whom you are looking to meet. Your goal should be to leave the encounter with an invitation to reconnect at a later time within two minutes only. Deep bumps are an effort to quickly make contact, establish enough of a connection to secure the next meeting, and move on.
- Know Your Targets
- Breaks Are No Time to Take a Break
- Follow Up
- It’s the People, Not the Speakers
- “Relationships are all there is. Everything in the universe only exists because it is in relationship to everything else. Nothing exists in isolation. We have to stop pretending we are individuals that can go it alone”. —MARGARET WHEATLEY
- “There is no such thing as a “self-made” man. We are made up of thousands of others. Everyone who has ever done a kind deed for us, or spoken one word of encouragement to us, has entered into the make-up of our character and of our thoughts, as well as our success. —GEORGE BURTON ADAMS”
- “The people who are on Crain’s “40 Under 40” aren’t necessarily the forty best businesspeople. They are, however, probably the forty most connected. And they probably all have lunched with one another at one time or another. When you get to know these people, and the people they know (including the journalists at Crain’s responsible for the “40 Under 40″), you’re that much more likely to be on the list yourself the next time it appears”.
- “Building a network of friends and colleagues is about building relationships and friendships. It should be fun, not time-consuming. When your network is set, your goals written down, you’ll find plenty of hours during the day to do what needs to be done”.
- “Those who use conferences properly have a huge leg up at your average industry gathering. While others quietly sit taking notes, content to sip their free bottled water, these men and women are setting up one-on-one meetings, organizing dinners, and, in general, making each conference an opportunity to meet people who could change their lives.”
- “Creating a connection between any two people necessitates a certain level of intimacy. In two minutes, you need to look deeply into the other person’s eyes and heart, listen intently, ask questions that go beyond just business, and reveal a little about yourself in a way that introduces some vulnerability (yes, vulnerability; it’s contagious!) into the interaction. All these things come together to create a genuine connection.”
- “It’s not necessarily strong contacts, like family and close friends, that prove the most powerful; to the contrary, often the most important people in our network are those who are acquaintances… Acquaintances, in short, represent a source of social power, and the more acquaintances you have, the more powerful you are”.
- “At some point, I recognized how absurd I was behaving. I’ve always told people I believe that every conversation you have is an invitation to risk revealing the real you. What’s the worst that can happen? They don’t respond in kind. So what. They probably weren’t worth knowing in the first place. But if the risk pays off, well, now you’ve just turned a potentially dull exchange into something interesting or even perhaps personally insightful—and more times than not, a real relationship is formed.”
- “Who you know determines how effectively you can apply what you know. Getting things done, and climbing the walls of your company, require having the right relationships”.
- “Remember, people don’t only hire people they like, they hire people that they think can make them and their companies better. That means someone with an expanded view of the world. It means you need to be aware of your intellectual property, and what you have to say that others might benefit from. It shows you’re interested and involved in the world around you.”