Never Eat Alone, written by Keith Ferrazzi, is a book on building and maintaining relationships with people. This post contains my personal notes from reading the book.
I read this book to help me improve my relationships with others in my life.
These “Book Notes” are inspired by Derek Sivers’ Book Notes. When I take the time to read a book, I take a few moments to distill the core concepts into something I can refer back to without having to go back through the book. Until now, I kept those notes private, but realized there is no reason not to share them with interested people.
Be warned: these notes are rough and can be stream-of-thought at times, since I did not capture them with a view to publication. I hope to continue to refine them over time as I refer to them.
- Anything at this list level is from the book.
- Anything at this list level contains my thoughts.
Anything with the symbol is an action item for me.
Section 1 - The Mind Set
Becoming a Member of the Club (1)
Don’t Keep Score (2)
- Ask for help! Relationships are like muscles, they strengthen with use. Relationships are not a depleteable resource.
What’s Your Mission? (3)
- Bill Clinton would write people’s names down when he was introduced to them. When asked why, he would say to people, “I’m going into politics and plan to run for governor of Arkansas, so I’m keeping track of everyone I meet”. In this way, he was reaching out and including others in his mission, not keeping his ambitions a secret.
- Think about Lisa. She does this well and includes people in her mission and ambitions.
Build It Before You Need It (4)
The Genius of Audacity (5)
- Seize this very minute; what you can do, or dream you can, begin it; boldness has genius power and magic in it. – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
- Audacity is often the only thing that separates two equally talented men and their job titles.
- It never hurts to ask.
- There is kindness in being bold – people enjoy helping others.
- Remind yourself that people with a low tolerance for risk, whose behavior is guided by fear, have a low propensity for success.
- Mustering the boldness to talk with people who don’t know me often simply comes down to balancing the fear of embarassment against fear of failure. Either ask, or you won’t be successful.
- The choice isn’t between success and failure; it’s been choosing risk and striving for greatness, or risking nothing and being certain of mediocrity.
- Set a goal of initiating a meeting with one new person a week. It doesn’t matter where or with whom. Introduce yourself to someone on the bus. Slide up next to someone at a bar and sa hello. Suggest coffee with someone you’re connected to online but whom you’ve never actually met. Hang out at the company watercooler and force yourself to talk to an employee you’re never spoken with.
- It gets easier with practice. Best of all, you get comfortable with the idea of rejection.
The Networking Jerk (6)
- It’s better to spend more time with fewer people at a one-hour get-together and have one or two meaningful dialogues, than engage in the wandering-eye routine and lose the respect of most of the people you meet.
- At a conference, when I run into someone I’ve been dying to meet, I don’t hide my enthusiasm. “It’s a pleasure to finally meet you. I’ve admiring your work from afar for quite some time and have been thinking how beneficial it might be if we could meet one another.” Coy games might work at a bar, but not when you’re looking to establish a deeper, more meaningful connection.
Section 2 - The Skill Set
Do Your Homework (7)
- Before you meet with new people you want to introduce yourself to, research them and their: business, hobbies, challenges, goals, inside their business and out.
- Prepare a one-page synopsis on that person. On that synopsis, include only: what is this person like as a human being, what he or she feels strongly about, and what his or her proudest achievements are.
- Be up to date on what’s happening in their company. Did they have a good quarter or a bad quarter? Does the company have a new product?
- Research can be done on Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, and the company PR department.
- In every conversation, try to transcence the trivial polite chitchat.
- Get to know what’s really on their mind: are their kids hoping to land an internship? Do they have health issues? Cutting strokes off their golf game?
- Keith researched this one CEO who had ran the NYC marathon. When he ran into the CEO, he said, “You know, I don’t know how yo udo it. I like to think I’m in great shape, but the training for a marathon killed me. I had to stop.” CEO was pleasantly surprised. Keith didn’t shy away from it, saying “I always make a special effort to inquire about the people I’d like to meet.”
- People are flattered when you do this. Instantly they know they’re not going to have to suffer strained conversation with someome but rather they are talin gto someone who has made an effort to connect with them and with whom they share an interest.
Make Lists (8)
Section 3 - Turning Connections into Compatriots
Health, Wealth and Children (18)
- The only way to get anyone to do anything is to recognize their importance and thereby make them feel important.
- Every person’s deepest lifelong desire is to be significant and to be recognized.
- There are three things in this world that engender deep emotional bonds between people: health, wealth, and children.
- There are a lot of things we can do for other people: give good advice, help them wash their car, or help them move. But health, wealth, and children affect us in ways other acts of kindness do not. When you help someone through a health issue, positively impact someone’s personal wealth, or take a sincere interest in their children, you engender life-bonding loyalty.
- Where do you start? You start with the philosophy, the worldview, that every human is an opportunity to help and be helped. The rest—whether it means helping with someone’s health, wealth, children, or any other unsatisfied desires—follows from that.
Social Arbitrage (19)
- When someone mentions a problem, try to think of solutions.
For example, if I’m in a conversation and the other person mentions they’re looking to buy a house in Los Angeles, the first thing I think is “How can my network help?” And there’s no time to linger. Midconversation, I’ll pull out my cell phone and locate someone who can help my companion buy a home. As I’m dialing, I might say something like, “You need to meet this Realtor I know named Betty. No one knows the Los Angeles area better. Here’s her phone number, but hold on—” Now Betty is on the line. “Hi, Betty, it’s so nice to hear your voice. It has been too long. Listen, I’m standing here with a friend who is in need of your wisdom. I just gave him your number and wanted to tell you personally he’d be calling.” The connection is made, the work is done, and whatever happens next, both parties are pleased by my efforts on their behalf. This is social arbitrage at work. And the first key is, don’t wait to be asked. Just do it.
- Power comes from being indispensable. Indispensability comes from being a switchboard, parceling out as much information, contacts, and goodwill to as many people in as many different worlds as possible.
- Although “relational” resources like the above example are one way of doing this, another way is using knowledge.
- Knowledge is one of the most valuable currencies in social arbitrage. Knowledge is free—it can be found in books, in articles, on the Internet, pretty much everywhere, and it’s precious to everyone.
- People pay more attention when they feel they’re receiving intel that’s specifically tailored for them; the more granularly you can target, the better.
- Example: Someone interviewed key players at his firm, creating a white paper to help new employees “onboard” themselves.
- When you work somewhere, write down all the tips and tricks of working there and distribute this kind of on-boarding white paper after you’ve been there a year or so.
- Book summaries and reviews, events calendars, and op-eds are all easy ways to package and share knowledge.
- Make social arbitrage a habit. At least once a day, when someone is talking, hear a “problem”. And I should think “need to find a solution”. If I don’t have personal advice, I should ask how my friends can help. Get on the phone and ask if they have advice, or if they used any books or articles to help them through the process. Pass it on.
- Can also search on Amazon for a book and send them a link or even the book!
Pinging – All the Time (20)
80 percent of building and maintaining relationships is just staying in touch. Keith calls it “pinging.” It’s a quick, casual greeting, and it can be done in any number of creative ways.
- Establishing new relationships step 1. People you’re contacting to create a new relationship need to see or hear your name in at least three modes of communication—by, say, an e-mail, a phone call, and a face-to-face encounter—before there is substantive recognition.
- Establishing new relationships step 2. Once you’ve got that early recognition, nurture a developing relationship with a phone call or email once a month.
- Establishing new relationships step 3. Transforming a contact into a friend requires two face-to-face meetings outside the office.
- There are three levels of “touch” that bucket how frequently to ping someone.
- Once a month pings.
- These are one of two kinds of people: (1) new relationships that need to be nurtured (see above re establishing new relationships) or (2) a mature relationship you’re actively involved in, e.g., trying to convert them into a new business associate.
- Add these people to your cell phone favorites to make pinging easier.
- When you have a free moment in a cab, go down the list and call or text.
- Daily or weekly monitor their social media to keep up with their news and find opportunities to be useful.
- Once a quarter pings.
- These are “touch base” people.
- These are also two kinds of people: (1) casual acquaintances or (2) people whom I already know well.
- Quarterly call or email them.
- Weekly or monthly Monitor their social media to keep up with their news and find opportunities to be useful.
- Include in occasional mass e-mails about my life or business.
- Annual holiday card or birthday call.
- Social media pings (e.g. status updates, retweets, comments) are good for ongoing relationship maintenance, but they don’t replace the need for one-to-one pinging with the people in your highest-priority network: the people connected to your current goals.
- Once a year pings.
- People I don’t know well and people who because of time and circumstance, I can’t devote any significant energy to pinging.
- Quarterly monitor their social media to keep up with their news and find opportunities to be useful.
- Strictly acquaintances.
- Reach them, in some direct way, once a year.
- Surprisingly, because you don’t know them all that well, when you do reach out with a card or email, the reactoin is wonderful. They are delighted and their curiosity is piqued when someone they don’t know all that well sends them a note.
- Emery does this!
How to Ping
- Constantly look to maximize relevancy and intimacy.
- “I just called to say I care” for closer contacts. Basically conveying that it’s been too long since we spoke and I wanted you to know I miss you and you’re important to me.
- For career or business pings, favor the value-add ping.
- Recognize when someone gets a promotion or the company he or she runs has a good financial quarter, or he or she has a child.
- Remember, health wealth and children!
- Take a photo with someone when you meet them and then you can send them the photo the next time you ping.
- Birthdays: everyone cares about their birthday even if they pretend they don’t!
- Consider wishing them right at midnight, if it would be appropriate!
Section 5 - Trading Up and Giving Back
Be Interesting (25)
- Marketers and connectors alike take heed: Be Interesting!
- Read The New York Times and keep up with current events to help make you interesting.
- People don’t only hire people they like, they hire people whom they think can make them and their companies better, which usually means people with an expanded view of the world.
Become an Expert: Have a Unique Point of View
- To win at things, all of your efforts must be powered by a deep passion and set of beliefs that go beyond just your own personal benefit. To move others, you must speak beyond yourself. Boldly putting yourself out there is necessary but not sufficient. There’s a difference between getting attention and getting attention for your desire to change the world.
- Think about what us that passion for you?
- You have to believe in something for people to believe in you.
- At every stage of your career, have some expertise or content that differentiates you from others. A cause, idea, trend or skill – unique subject matter on which you are the authority.
- At my current employer, my M&A skill probably differentiates me from others on the legal team.
- I have been trying to make my data science skills a differentiator, but it has not gotten the traction I had hoped.
- I have been getting involved with contract automation. They may end up being a differentiator.
Talking to Journalists
- Journalists are hungry for ideas. Just call and ask for them.
- Calls won’t go unreturned after leaving a message that says, e.g., “I’ve got the inside scoop on how the gaming industry is going to revolutionize marketing. I’ve appreciated your work for a long time now; I believe you are the right person to break this story.”
- Create a story about your company and the ideas it embodies that readers will care about. That’s your content. Then share it. Have you ever picked up the phone and actually talked to a reporter about why you think what you do is so special? You cannot outsource this to PR; journalists deal with thousands of PR people a day. Who’s going to be more passionate and more informed than you? You’re the expert on what you do.
Become a Content Creator
- Content creators are always in high demand, asked to speak at conferences, featured in magazines. Everyone in the industry knows their names.
- Their fame comes from always seeming to be one step ahead. How do you do that? Latch onto the latest, most cutting-edge idea in the business world. Immerse yourself in it. Distill that into a message about the idea’s broader impact to others and how it could be applied in the industry you work in. Teach, write and speak about it. That’s it.
- AI is probably the most trendy, cutting edge thing right now in the business world.
- Look into what else is cutting edge in the business world. Maybe more theoretical things? Write something about its impact on the legal world.
- Forget your job title and job description. Figure out what expertise you’re going to master that will provide real value to your network and your company.
- Develop a niche: think of several areas where your company underperformance and choose to focus on the one area that is least attended to.
- It looked to me like ICA automation was being neglected at work because we didn’t have ATG anymore. It was a niche I thought I could add a lot of value since it felt like an area we were underperforming.
- Follow the money: creativity is worthless if it can’t be applied. Pick something that will make or save someone money.
- The most gripping stories are those concerning identity—who we are, where we’ve come from, and where we’re going. They tap into something common to all people. That doesn’t mean your business, your résumé, or whatever content you’re trying to pitch actually has to be oversimplified or overly universal. But you should figure out how to spin your yarn in a fashion that (a) is simple to understand, and (b) everybody can relate to. Another way to think about this is to ask yourself, “How does my content help others answer who they are, where they are from, and where they are going?”
- I think this last sentence is a key point and is generally applicable. I should be thinking about these questions when I create any sort of content, even emails. Drafting my emails (for example) to these questions will make it more powerful.
- Use emotion to convince your doubters that underdogs sometimes win and Goliaths sometimes crumble.
Build it and They Will Come (29)
Consider building a club or organization in your niche.
Never Give In to Hubris (30)
Don’t be a jerk when things get good. You’ll start to pick up momentum; one powerful contact will lead to the next. It will be a fun and motivating ride. Don’t be a jerk when this happens; stay humble.
Find Mentors, Find Mentees. Repeat (31)
Teaching and mentoring people is important and helps build relationships.
Balance is B.S. (32)
Work and personal life shouldn’t be separated for purposes of building connections with people. I.e., “balance” between work and personal life is B.S.
Welcome to the Connected Age (33)