NEVER EAT ALONE
A Guide to Professional Success + My Personal Journey
by Kevin Hurley
First released in 2004 and recently updated in 2014, Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi continues to inspire business professionals from around the world. This bestselling business classic reveals the secrets to achieving success (regardless of your profession) by growing the right relationships and harnessing the power of your network. I know this book is already a bible for most professionals, but for those of you who haven’t read it yet, here’s why I’m preaching the good word.
As we continue to become hyper-connected, I believe this business guide holds secrets to success that will only become more relevant as face-to-face communications dwindle away. There’s only a handful of business books that continue to provide value in our exponentially evolving world, and for this reason I’d like to highlight a few key takeaways that will always remain true.
Having come from a small town myself, this book had an enormous impact on my professional life as I could relate to Keith’s journey along the way. Each chapter got me excited about starting my own journey and I only wished I came across this gem earlier in my life. If you believe the incredibly famous quote (and book) by Porter Gale, “your network is your net worth” please do yourself a favour and pick up a copy of this book to start leading your own success story.
Before getting started, I will honestly say that I still have a ton to learn and have now placed building relationships as the number one priority in my career. There’s no shortcut for achieving success, but I’d like to highlight a few critical elements of Ferrazzi’s system that are essential to start growing the right relationships and building a network of valuable connections. I’m in no way associated with this book, however I have no problem sharing its value with you!
“I’ve come to believe that connecting is one of the most important business — and life — skill sets you’ll ever learn. Why? Because, flat out, people do business with people they know and like. Careers — in every imaginable field — work the same.”
– Keith Ferrazzi
What’s Your Mission?
No matter what you want to achieve in life, whether you consider it a personal or professional mission, you must have an end goal in mind. This is clearly one of the most important elements of the system as it will lay the foundation to your every effort. Think about it. You would never start the smallest project without a plan in place. Why would you ever do this with your professional success?
How can you begin to build the “right” relationships when you don’t know where you want to go. Simply knowing that you want to run a business may be a good start, however the more specific you can hone in on your mission, the better your chances of reaching the right people along the way. I assure you your mission will evolve over time, especially as you reach new heights. Like all successful goal setting, you must be able to break down your mission into smaller goals. You must be passionate about your mission as it could be a lifelong journey!
“It’s better to give before you receive. And never keep score. If your interactions are ruled by generosity, your rewards will follow suit.”
– Keith Ferrazzi
I knew that I wanted to be in business since I can remember. Whether it was my Dad’s influence or the fact that I just loved selling things, i’m not quite sure. I use to set up a pretty awesome garage sale back when I was old enough to ride a bike, featuring “Flash Sale Friday’s” and other impressive sales tactics long before I knew what they were.
My mission has evolved since then to become an expert in growth within the technology space. It was incredibly reassuring having been a part of an awesome company that was recently acquired by LinkedIn during my last position in growth. I’m now on a mission to absorb everything I can about running a successful high-tech startup to set off on my own journey in the near future. I have adjusted my mission and aimed higher.
Don’t Keep Score
This is certainly one of the primary keys to success within Keith’s system for building a powerful network of valuable relationships. If it’s not your immediate reaction to help someone out when you can, you’ve got a lot to learn about building better relationships. It should be easy to ask for a favour from someone in your network if you’ve already been providing value long before asking for anything in return.
Throughout the book, you’ll notice that relationships are living, breathing entities that must be nurtured from both sides in order to provide value for the parties involved. In order to keep the relationship balanced, be sure you’re always giving value whether that’s through a direct request or by “pinging” your contacts regularly with something of value. Ferrazzi uses this word a lot throughout the book as he understands the value in keeping in touch, although I prefer the word “Nudge”.
“Today’s most valuable currency is social capital, defined as the information, expertise, trust, and total value that exist in the relationships you have and social networks to which you belong.”
– Keith Ferrazzi
Over the last few years I’ve focused on building my network up with a long list of valuable connections. It’s taken a few years before I started to see a return on my investment. However, i’ve started to realize how interconnected the professional world is and it’s been incredibly rewarding to help others out whenever I can. There’s no point in keeping score.
Since the start of 2015 I’ve helped more than 5 people find jobs, even if it was a simple introduction opening the lines of communication for someone who would have otherwise been hard to reach. Over the last few years I’ve worked with many great business leaders and have been recommended for jobs simply because I’ve put work into building authentic relationships with those who have powerful networks. My last 2 career moves required no resume and no traditional interviews. Are you starting to see the value in this?
Research & Honestly Go A Long Way
This combines a few different areas within the book, however in the essence of a reasonable post I wanted to quickly highlight both. Trust me, I’m not giving anything away, the book is packed with valuable takeaways. Keith stresses the importance of doing your homework before trying to connect with anyone of value. If someone reached out to you asking for something in return without showing they recognized your efforts, wouldn’t you immediately assume it’s a cold email or spam?
You need to ensure that you’re honest with this person and aren’t coming off as “sketchy”. I can tell something is off when I’m sent an email with no clear purpose. It’s pretty clear that as soon as I respond, they’re going to pounce on the opportunity to ask for something. Just be honest, explain why you’re reaching out and be sure to indicate that you’re looking for help right away. Don’t come to the conversation empty handed, is there anything you can do for them now? It saves you both time in the end and positions you as a trustworthy individual, which is key when making introductions.
When I first started out in the marketing world, it was overwhelming. I had no idea who to look to for advice as everyone seemed to be selling a different story. Luckily there was social media to help out. Social proof is huge in the online marketing world as it typically indicates the quality and credibility of content. With one of my first major marketing roles, I knew that “content was king” and that I needed some help producing it to get our company out there.
I spent time researching some of the top bloggers that nearly every marketing professional religiously followed. At that time I came across Seth Godin and Mitch Joel, two of the top marketing professionals recognized across the globe. I crafted messages personally for each of them after having read a long list of their content. I simply asked if I could re-post their content in an effort to help educate our growing community of marketers. It was a huge success! I explained why I was reaching out (to help share their amazing content) and explained how passionate I was about learning everything I could about marketing.
“Success in life = (the people you meet) + (what you create together)”
– Keith Ferrazzi
A Few Reasons to Never Eat Alone
These are only a few of the reasons why I still reference this book and attribute some of the learnings to my current professional success. Given my role at Nudge, I’m learning more about the power of relationships and how everyone can leverage simple techniques to be more successful in growing a stronger network to achieve their goals.
So many business quotes highlight the value of human relationships in business success. I hope that Keith’s work has inspired you to start networking, connecting or whatever you want to call it!