Never Eat Alone is a business classic on the power of building relationships to get ahead in life. In this article, I will give a review of the book and relay some of the truly impactful advice within it.
Keith Ferrazzi, the author of this book is a master of networking. He’s been the CEO of several companies and runs his own business, he’s been named on of the “Top 40 under 40,” and his methods are taught at many MBA programs. The purpose of the book is to help you create a networking strategy, learn to connect with others who can help you, manage your network to meet even more people who can help, use your network to achieve your goals, and stand out in your network and provide value to others.
The book begins by describing the current economic reality. Companies are no longer loyal to their people and people are no longer loyal to their companies. “Lifetime corporate employment is dead,” Ferrazzi solemnly notes. However, your network can afford you the same loyalty that was once offered by corporations. If you’re out of a job you won’t panic nearly as much if you know you can call someone and have an interview lined up. If you need anything at all, whether it’s money, advice, or a job, you can find it in your network. The relationships you’ve built will be your parachute.
Ferrazzi says the key to success is generosity. The flip side of this is to not be afraid to ask for generosity. He mentions how he gets irked when he hears young people tell him, “I’m sorry I can’t accept your offer because I’m not sure I’ll be able to repay you.” Give when you can, and don’t refuse to accept someone else’s kindness. Help others but don’t be afraid to let them help you.
This was a huge takeaway for me. I used to feel uncomfortable reaching out or receiving help from busy, successful people until I realized one reason they got to their position is because of their willingness to give, which is an effective method of connecting. Giving is connecting, and receiving is connecting too. In an era of self-centeredness, people remember the generous ones.
One thing that really stood out to me was his tip that it rarely hurts to ask and that boldness often works in one’s favor. This is a core tenet of game. At one point Ferrazzi even compares audacity in networking to “dating.” He mentions that to this day whenever he calls or reaches out to someone he doesn’t know, he has some fear of rejection, but the important thing is to do it anyway. Nothing creates opportunities like having a willingness to ask.
Ferrazzi is honest about his mindset: “Either I ask or I’m not successful. That fear always overrides my anxiety about rejection or being embarrassed.”
The Skill Set
Find the people who can help you achieve your goals and reach out to them. Do your homework about the people, search their names online and learn about them. Ferrazzi calls this “warm calling,” which is similar to “warm approaching.” Be methodical about your calls or emails, just like you would be methodical about which girls to approach. When reaching out, mention a mutual friend or acquaintance, or the value you can add to their lives.
Even if you’re looking for a job or coffee, be ready to talk about the ways you can make their lives easier in some way with the skills or experience you have. Frequently these people will not return calls or messages. Don’t let that discourage you; continue to call and write and when they finally do respond, don’t act annoyed. Don’t make it uncomfortable for the other person.
Rules of warm calling:
- Convey credibility
- State your value proposition
- Impart urgency and convenience—be prepared to do what it takes to meet with the person
- Be prepared to compromise
Always follow up with a thank you note. Doing this will put you above the crowd. And after connecting with someone, always be sure to follow up. Following up within 24 hours is key, so send an email as soon as you can after having met someone and receiving their contact info. Be sure to stay on their radar and send monthly follow ups to stay in touch.
What you should include in follow ups:
- Express gratitude
- Include item of interest (mutual interest, a joke from conversation)
- Reaffirm commitments you have made
- Be brief and to the point
- Address person by name
- Use email AND snail mail
- Send it as soon as possible
- Thank those who have set you up with the person
If you can find one person who has many contacts and can build a relationship with them, you will have a huge advantage. If this person can vouch for you and introduce you to other people, you will have an open door to many opportunities.
8 Professions For Super-Connectors
- Restaurateurs: Make a point of becoming a regular, meeting the staff, and get to know the owner and he might open his list of contacts to you
- Fundraisers: People who raise money for others are usually connected to important people
- Public relations people
- Journalists: These people aren’t very difficult to get in contact with. I sent out a couple of emails the other day and within an hour they responded.
- Authors, bloggers, gurus: No brainer here.
There is a chapter about small talk and how important it is. Any guy who learns game should be proficient in small talk. Read Day Bang and learn how to ramble and drop bait. That book is a great conversationalist’s manual. The most important point in the chapter is to be the first to say hello in a situation where you want to meet new people to add to your network. Don’t stand around like a loser at a night club. Take the initiative. Ask them questions about themselves, pay attention, remember their names, and use them.
Turning Connectors Into Compatriots
The only way to get people to do something is to make them feel important. Every person’s deepest desire is to be recognized, validated, and liked. If you can make a person feel that, you are in. The chapter titled “Health, Wealth, and Children” claims that those are the three most important topics to people. If you can add value or advice about any of those three things, you generate loyalty.
Real power comes from being indispensable. Help someone else by using your network to connect them and you will develop even more relationships that you can later use for your own goals. You gain influence when you sensibly hand out contacts, information, and goodwill to others.
“You have to feed the fire of your network or it will wither and die,” Ferrazzi says.
You must stay on people’s radar if you’re going to need them later. Send them monthly emails, forward articles that might interest them, call them on their birthday. An example he gives of staying in contact when pressed for time:
“Hi, X. Just landed in Y and it made me think of you. No time to meet this trip but I just wanted to touch base.”
Using the book’s outline, I’ve sparingly sent emails asking people for advice or opinions to stay in their thoughts. I’ve also used the “value-added ping” where I forward relevant articles, but do so only occasionally.
The Digital Age And Giving Back
The book gives guidance on the reality of social media, and becoming the “king of content.” There is some useful stuff here, and it is very interesting, particularly for people who want to build or maintain a strong online presence.
Many people want to start a blog or a website, but don’t know what to write about. The question you should ask yourself is, “How can I be helpful to other people?” Don’t write what you think will be interesting, write what other people will be interested in. What do other people need, and how can you write about it in a way that is compelling or provocative?
Ferrazzi talks about the importance of candor and authenticity in building an audience. I think the popularity of Return of Kings has more than demonstrated this. The raw honesty of our columns connects with people on a deep level.
The Importance Of Being Interesting
Ferrazzi writes that he’ll often give a speech at a college and a student will approach him and say he really enjoyed the speech. Ferrazzi will ask the kid what he liked about it and the kid won’t have much to say. Not a good way to connect.
Ferrazzi discusses the famous Airport Question. If you have two people, all else being equal, ask yourself, “If I were trapped in a metropolitan airport for a few hours, would I want to spend it with this person?” Develop yourself, expand your interests, learn to tell a story, and have a point of view.
There is so much more practical advice including approaching celebrities, connecting with journalists, and joining clubs and organizations to expand your network. A quote that sums up the book’s main point: “Autonomy is a life vest made out of sand.”
I’ve used many of the techniques in the book with great results. Much of it aligns with the central tenets of game. Strongly recommended.
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