Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi
One Line Summary
Networking secrets from a power connector
“You are the sum of the five people you spend the most time around”
Something I haven’t touched much on in this blog is networking. People either seem to love it or hate it, but there doesn’t seem to be much of an argument against properly doing it.
So what does proper networking look like?
In Never Eat Alone, networking superstar Keith Ferrazzi shares with us his secrets to create a social circle like no other. Originally this book was written in the early 2000’s, but because it was such a huge success and the rise of social media, an updated / extended version was released in 2014. That was the version I read.
This book can be incredibly useful if you’ve got a career that involves leveraging human connections which, let’s be honest, is likely almost everyone.
Why it’s Awesome
Most of the things I’ve learned about networking has not come from the traditional sphere of social dynamics. It’s come from the underground, rouge world of learning Game. So I questioned whether I really needed to read a networking book.
However, I decided I needed to follow my own philosophy of keeping an open mind and admit that there could be something of value in the traditional sphere. So here we are.
Really Ferrazzi’s whole philosophy could be summed up in one simple sentence: make real connections. I know that may not seem significant so let me explain.
In Ferrazzi’s massive networking career, what he has seen is that for most people, “networking” is really code for “please help me”. They’re looking at each person like they’re an object to extract some sort of value from. It’s like the creepy dude at the bar if you gave him a suit.
When your focus shifts from “help me” to “how do I help you”, that’s how you know you’re on the right track.
Like Russell Simmons says, you have to give in order to get. Networking is no different.
Another mistake people make is thinking that making connections when you’re networking is somehow different from making friends in real life. It’s not. People are people, and the same things that make us like a friend is what people are going to enjoy when networking.
That means building deep, authentic relationships. That means taking social risks. Don’t get caught in the hype that networking must be overly formal and professional.
One of my favorite networking stories that Ferrazzi tells is when he, unknowingly, walked up to the CEO of this huge company and asked him who he was. Apparently those around him were shocked because, gasp, he’s the CEO. Oh no!
But CEO is ultimately just a label. Ferrazzi ended up spending a lot of time together with that man simply by making a human to human connection, not a peon to CEO connection.
This may seem obvious, but the truth is people make this mistake all the time. So in practicality, it’s not obvious at all.
You have to realize that titles, labels and even physical appearances are just the surface. Don’t get sucked into the comparison game.
There’s a lot of practical tips that Ferrazzi shares in this book as well, and I suggest you read the book if you want to learn those. But really they will all come back to making real connections.
The ending of the book was also one of the best parts of this book. Turns out that Ferrazzi took the same 10-day meditation course I did, just at a different time. So how does a man who can’t stop talking end up sitting in silence for 10 days?
Ferrazzi talks about how even though he achieved a lot of material success in his life, ultimately he found it didn’t fulfill him. Then one day, an Indian man named S.N Goenka taught him something called Vispassana.
For Ferrazzi, his 10-day mediation retreat was a major turning point. He released a lot tension in his life, and his continued practice has done him so much for his happiness.
Why Does It Suck
The truth is there’s only so much you’re going to learn about networking from a book. Get out there and actually start talking to people. That’s the only way to do it.
The Wrap Up
Great for an introduction to social dynamics and networking. However you can go much deeper than even this. Ferrazzi is really only scratching the surface of how to make connections with people here.