31 Networking Principles I Learned from Keith Ferrazzi

One of the most important habits that I have developed over the past couple of years is reading. I try to read at least 12–15 books every year, depending on my college and work schedule. This summer, I have been able to go through 6 books. Here they are:

1 — Founders at Work by Jessica Livingston

2 — The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton Christensen

3 — The Art of the Start by Guy Kawasaki

4 — Naked Statistics by Charles Wheelan

5 — The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman

6 — Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazi

All of these books are excellent in their own realms, but this post is dedicated to the things I have learned in Keith Ferrazi’s book, Never Eat Alone, a business classic on the power of relationships, with timeless strategies shared by the world’s most connected individuals. So below are the 31 networking principles that Keith shares in his book:

1 — Becoming a Member of the Club: Connecting is one of the most important business and life skill sets you’ll ever learn. Because, flat out, people do business with people they know and like. Careers work the same way. Even our overall well-being and sense of happiness is dictated in large part by the support and guidance and love we get from the community we build for ourselves.

2 — Don’t Keep Score: Relationships are solidified by trust. Institutions are built on it. You gain trust by asking not what people can do for you, but what you can do for others. In other words, the currency of real networking is not greed but generosity.

3 — What’s Your Mission? The more specific you are about what you want to do, the easier it becomes to develop a strategy to accomplish it. Every successful person shares a zeal for goal setting. The key is to make setting goals a habit. If you do that, goal setting becomes a part of your life. If you don’t, it withers and dies.

4 — Build It Before You Need It: You’ve got to create a community of colleagues and friends before you need it. Others around you are far more likely to help you if they already know and like you. Start gardening now. You won’t believe the treasures to be found within your own backyard.

5 — The Genius of Audacity: Sticking to the people we already know is a tempting behavior. But unlike some forms of dating, a networker isn’t looking to achieve only a single successful union. Creating an enriching circle of trusted relationships requires one to be out there, in the mix, all the time. Ultimately, everyone has to ask himself or herself how they’re going to fail. The choice isn’t between success and failure; it’s between choosing risk and striving for greatness, risking nothing and being certain of mediocrity.

6 — The Networking Jerk: The networking jerk is the insincere, ruthlessly ambitious glad-hander you don’t want to become. If you’re not making friends while connecting, best to resign yourself to dealing with people who don’t care much about what happens to you. Being disliked will kill your connecting efforts before they begin. Alternatively, being liked can be the most potent, constructive force for getting business done.

7 — Do Your Homework: Whom you meet, how you meet them, and what they think of you afterward should not be left to chance. Preparation is the key to sounding like a genius; so before meeting with any new people, research on who they are, what their businesses is, and what’s important to them.

8 — Take Names: The successful organization and management of the information that makes connecting flourish is vital. Tracking the people you know, the people you want to know, and doing all the homework that will help you develop intimate relationships with others can cause one heck of an information overload.
 9 — Warming the Cold Call:
The 4 rules of warm calling: 1) Convey credibility by mentioning a familiar person or institution. 2) State your value proposition. 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.

10 — Managing the Gatekeeper Artfully: Make the gatekeeper an ally rather than an adversary. And never get on his or her bad side. Many executive assistants are their bosses’ minority partners. Don’t think of them as secretaries or assistants. In fact, they are associates and lifelines.

11 — Never Eat Alone: In building a network, remember: Above all, never ever disappear. Keep your social and conference and event calendar full. As an up-and-corner, you must work hard to remain visible and active among your ever-budding network of friends and contacts.

12 — Share Your Passions: Make a list of the things you’re most passionate about. Use your passions as a guide to which activities and events you should be seeking out. Use them to engage new and old contacts. When your day is fueled by passion, filled with interesting people to share it with, reaching out will seem less like a challenge or a chore and more like an effortless consequence of the way you work.

13 — Follow Up or Fail: When you meet someone with whom you want to establish a relationship, take the extra little step to ensure you won’t be lost in their mental attic. Making sure a new acquaintance retains your name is a process you should set in motion right after you’ve met someone. Make follow-up a habit. Make it automatic. When you do, the days of struggling to remember people’s names will be a thing of the past.

14 — Be a Conference Commando: Conferences are good for mainly one thing. They provide a forum to meet the kind of like-minded people who can help you fulfill your mission and goals. Those who use conferences properly have a huge leg up at your average industry gathering. They set up 1-on-1 meetings, organize dinners, and make each conference an opportunity to meet people who could change their lives.

15 — Connecting with Connectors: Super-connectors are those who maintain contact with thousands of people in many different worlds, and they know them well enough to give them a call. Once you become friendly with a super-connector, you’re only two degrees away from the thousands of different people they know. You’ll find a disproportionate amount of super-connectors as headhunters, lobbyists, fundraisers, politicians, journalists, and public relations specialists, because such positions require these folks’ innate abilities.

16 — Expanding Your Circle: The most efficient way to enlarge and tap the full potential of your circle of friends is to connect your circle with someone else’s. Such collaboration means seeing each person in your network as a partner. Like a business in which cofounders take responsibility for different parts of the company, networking partners help each other, and by extension their respective networks, by taking responsibility for that part of the web that is theirs and providing access to it as needed. In other words, they exchange networks. The boundaries of any network are fluid and constantly open.

17 — The Art of Small Talk: When it comes to making an impression, differentiation is the name of the game. Confound expectation. Shake it up. How? Be yourself — vulnerability is the most underappreciated assets in business today. The real winners are those people who put it all out there and don’t waste a bunch of time and energy trying to be something/someone they’re not. Charm is simply a matter of being yourself. Your uniqueness is your power. We are all born with innate wining traits to be a masterful small talker.

18 — Health, Wealth, and Children: The highest human need is for self-actualization — the desire to become the best you can be. But we can’t attend to our highest needs until we attend to those at the bottom of the pyramid, like the necessities of subsistence, security, and sex. It is within this lower group — where health, wealth, and children reside — that loyalty is created. In addressing those 3 fundamental issues, you accomplish 2 things: 1) You help someone fulfill those needs they most need met, and 2) You allow them the opportunity to move up the pyramid of needs to tackle some of their higher desires.

19 — Social Arbitrage: How much you give to the people you come into contact with determines how much you’ll receive in return. In other words, if you want to make friends and get things done, you have to put yourself out to do things for other people — things that require time, energy, and consideration. The best sort of connecting occurs when you can bring together two people from entirely different worlds. The strength of your network derives as much from the diversity of your relationships as it does from their quality or quantity. The ability to bridge different worlds, and even different people within the same profession, is a key attribute in managers who are paid better and promoted faster.

20 — Pinging All the Time: 80% of building and maintaining relationships is just staying in touch — “pinging.” It’s a quick, casual greeting, and it can be done in any number of creative ways. Once you develop your own style, you’ll find it easier to stay in touch with more people than you ever dreamed of in less time than you ever imagined.

21 — Find Anchor Tenants and Feed Them: Every individual within a particular peer set has a bridge to someone outside his or her own group of friends. We all have, to some degree or another, developed relationships with older, wiser, more experienced people; they may be our mentors, our parents’ friends, our teachers, our rabbis and reverends, our bosses. They are “anchor tenants”; their value comes from the fact that they are different — they know different people, have experienced different things, and thus, have much to teach. So invite them to your dinner party and they will bring people outside of your social circle along.

22 — Be Interesting: Have a unique point of view. Be a content creator. How? Latch on to the latest, most cutting-edge idea in the business world. Immerse yourself in it, getting to know all the thought leaders pushing the idea and all the literature available. Distill that into a message about the idea’s broader impact to others and how it could be applied in the industry your work in. That is the content. Then to become an expert: teach, write, and speak about your expertise.

23 — Build Your Brand: Within a network, your brand is powerful. It establishes your worth. It takes your mission and content and broadcasts it to the world. It articulates what you have to offer, why you’re unique, and gives a distinct reason for others to connect with you.

24 — Broadcast Your Brand: You have to start today building relationships with the media before you have a story you’d like them to write. Send them information. Meet them for coffee. Call regularly to stay in touch. Give them inside scoops on your industry. Establish yourself as a willing and accessible source of information, and offer to be interviewed for print, radio, or TV.

25 — The Write Stuff: Writing articles can be a great boost for your career. It provides instant credibility and visibility. It can become a key arrow in your self-marketing quiver, creating relationships with highly respected people and helping you develop a skill that’s always in high demand.

26 — Getting Close to Power: The famous and powerful people are first and foremost people: They’re proud, sad, insecure, hopeful, and if you can help them achieve their goals, in whatever capacity, they will be appreciative. In America, there is an association for everything. If you want to meet the movers and shakers directly, you have to become a joiner. It’s amazing how accessible people are when we meet them at events that speak to their interests.

27 — Build It and They Will Come: All clubs are based on common interests. Members are united by a similar job, philosophy, hobby, neighborhood, or simply because they are the same race, religion, or generation. They are bound by a common proposition that is unique to them. They have, in other words, a reason to hang out together. You can take your own distinctive proposition and then take the extra step that most people don’t. Start an organization. And invite those you want to meet to join you. Gaining members will be easy. Like most clubs, it starts with your group of friends, who then select their own friends. Over time, those people will bring in even more new and intriguing people.

28 — Never Give in to Hubris: Arrogance is a disease that can betray you into forgetting your real friends and why they’re so important. Even with the best of intentions, too much hubris will stir up other people’s ire and their desire to put you in your place. So remember, in your hike up the mountain, be humble. Help others up the mountain along with and before you. Never let the prospect of a more powerful or famous acquaintance make you lose sight of the fact that the most valuable connections you have are those you’ve already made at all levels.

29 — Find Mentors, Find Mentees, Repeat: A successful mentoring relationships needs equal parts utility and emotion. You can’t simply ask somebody to be personally invested in you. There has to be some reciprocity involved — whether its hard work or loyalty that you give in return — that gets someone to invest in you in the first place. Then, when the process kicks in, you have to mold your mentor into a coach; someone for whom your success is in some small or big way his success.

30 — Balance is B.S: You can’t feel in love with your life if you hate your work; and, more times than not, people don’t love their work because they work with people they don’t like. Connecting with others doubles and triples your opportunities to meet with people that can lead to a new and exciting job. If your life is filled with people you care about and who care for you, why concern yourself with “balancing” anything at all?

31 — Welcome to the Connected Age: Living a connected life leads one to take a different view. Life is less a quest than a quilt. We find meaning, love, and prosperity through the process of stitching together our bold attempts to help others find their own way in their lives. The relationships we weave become an exquisite and endless pattern.