I admit, it took me quite a long time to get around to reading this book. Not for any other reason aside from the fact that I’ve read quite a few books on networking and find that a lot of the same ideas are recycled over and over. I was happily surprised to find that while there were definitely some familiar concepts presented, it also covered some new ideas and practical tips that I hadn’t thought about before.
First off, the author Keith Ferrazzi is a well-known speaker, marketer and networking guru. A graduate of Yale and Harvard, Ferrazzi is a classic example of how hard work and connections can create opportunities that may seem beyond most people. Ferrazzi is also the Owner and CEO of Ferrazzi Greenlight, a marketing and business consulting firm.
The main theme of “Never Eat Alone” centres on the idea that networking is not just a tool to meet people and make connections but can also be used as a powerful way to achieve your personal and professional goals as well as help others do the same. Ferrazzi uses many examples throughout the book from his own life as well as people within his network to demonstrate the power of a robust and active network.
Here are the six big ideas that I took away from the book:
1) Nobody makes it alone
One of the key ideas that Ferrazzi brings up is that while it may seem that high achievers are independently successful, the truth is that they are the sum of all the people who have helped them along the way. Whether it be trying to get an in on a new job prospect or simply trying to get connected with the right people, a well-established network is the key to making this happen. Ferrazzi has a great quote on this “Success in any field, but especially in business, is about working with people, not against them”. It’s often that we assume that everybody is the competition, but when you begin to see your business contacts as a community of people all looking to achieve their own goals, you can see the value of collaboration.
2) When you help others, others help you
This idea is pretty straightforward. Ferrazzi says “Once you’re committed to reaching out to others and asking for their help at being the best at whatever you do, you’ll realize, as I have, what a powerful way of accomplishing your goal this can be. Just an important, it will lead to a much fuller, richer, life, surrounded by an ever-growing, vibrant network of people you care for and who care for you.”
Ever since my first mentor helped me get my career started, I’ve always asked myself the question “How can I add value to my connections?” By finding ways to use your resources and connections to help others, you inherently create opportunities for yourself.
3) Networking is really about connecting
Many people have the misconception that going to a networking event and collecting a handful of business cards is real networking. Although it’s part of it, networking is really about creating valuable connections with people by taking an interest in their projects and finding ways to add value for them. Ferrazzi emphasizes the importance of not only connecting with people on the professional level but also on the personal level too.
4) Introduce your connections to each other
This is a really good practice that I’m not currently doing myself. My friend Jacob does a great job of this. Every event we go to he is always introducing me to people who may add value for me or who I might be able to add value to. Another practice that Jacob has is that he frequently has dinner parties where he’ll invite a few of his connections over to his house and introduce them to each other. I really like this idea because it creates an opportunity for people to really get to know each other in a comfortable environment. He got this tip straight out of the book.
5) Passion is important, specifically “What do you truly love to do?”
At first, I thought it a bit odd to have a whole chapter dedicated to passion in a book about networking. But after reading this section, I actually found it to be quite obvious. Ferrazzi talks a lot about doing what you’re passionate about because once you figure out what that is, then you can engage other people into helping you pursue what you love. And in turn, you can help them chase after what they love. Also, people who are passionate about what they do are generally more interesting people to talk to.
Ferrazzi talks quite a bit about goals in Chapter 3 of the book. Specifically about the process of setting goals and then figuring out who in your network can help you reach your goals. Ferrazzi talks about how his Dad’s goal for him was to have him receive the best education possible. In order to do this his father approached a well-respected business person who sat on the board of an elite private school. By connecting with this person, his father was able to get him into an excellent educational institution which created the foundation for his career. One of the ideas that resonated with me from the book was that you don’t necessarily need to know exactly who you need to talk to but have a general idea. Then you can enlist somebody from your network to help you connect to this person.
This book was a great reminder about the basics of networking and also creates an excellent framework for developing your own networking strategy. I highly recommend it to people just starting out with networking as well as for the seasoned networking pro.
Never Eat Alone is available through Chapters and Amazon. Ferrazzi also has another book that was published recently called Who’s Got Your Back: The Breakthrough Program to Build Deep, Trusting Relationships That Create Success.