“The best way to become good at small talk is not to talk small at all.”
~ Keith Ferrazzi
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Real Networking: Thoughts From “Never Eat Alone” by a Headhunter
Here’s a summary of very interesting ideas I gleaned recently while reading Never Eat Alone, shared with permission of the author Keith Ferrazzi.
“Poverty, I realized, wasn’t only a lack of financial resources; it was isolation from the kind of people that could help you make more of yourself.”
I was provided with a simple but profound lesson about the power of generosity. When you help others, they often help you. Reciprocity is the gussied-up word people use later in life to describe this ageless principle. I just knew the word as “care.” We cared for each other, so we went out of our way to do nice things.
I came to realize that first semester at business school that Harvard’s hyper-competitive, individualistic students had it all wrong. Success in any field, but especially in business, is about working with people, not against them.
Over time, I came to see reaching out to people as a way to make a difference in people’s lives as well as a way to explore and learn and enrich my own; it became the conscious construction of my life’s path. Once I saw my networking efforts in this light, I gave myself permission to practice it with abandon in every part of my professional and personal life, I didn’t think of it as cold and impersonal, the way I thought of “networking.” I was, instead, connecting—sharing my knowledge and resources, time and energy, friends and associates, and empathy and compassion in a continual effort to provide value to others, while coincidentally increasing my own.
After two decades of successfully applying the power of relationships in my own life and career, I’ve come to believe that connecting is one of the most important business—and life—skill sets you’ll ever learn.
I found myself absorbing wisdom and advice from every source imaginable—friends, books, neighbors, teachers, family… My thirst to reach out was almost unquenchable. But in business, I found nothing came close to the impact of mentors.
I learned that real networking was about finding ways to make other people more successful.
I went on to become the company’s chief marketing officer and the youngest person ever tapped for partner (at Deloitte)…by incorporating the ideas I discuss in this book, you too can become the center of a circle of relationships, one that will help you succeed throughout life.
Here’s the hard part: you’ve got to be more than willing to accept generosity. Often, you’ve got to go out and ask for it.
The currency of real networking is not greed but generosity.
All of which reveals an inner truth about the skill of reaching out to others: those who are best at it don’t network—they make friends. They gain admirers and win trust precisely because their amicable overtures extend to everyone.
William James wrote: “The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.”
Going to a meeting without googling someone is unacceptable.
Serge was busy, and I heard nothing back from him or his administrative assistant after several e-mails. This isn’t unusual. Frequently, people won’t get back to you. You have to put your ego aside and persist in calling or writing. And when you finally do connect, don’t sabotage your efforts by expressing how annoyed you are that they didn’t get back to you as quickly as you would have liked. Nor should you apologize for your persistence. Just dive in as if you caught him on the first call. Make it comfortable for everyone.
In 15 seconds, I used my four rules for what I call warm calling:
- Convey credibility by mentioning a familiar person or institution.
- State your value proposition.
- 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.
- Be prepared to offer a compromise that secures a definite follow-up at a minimum.
The most memorable gifts I have ever received are those whose value could not be measured in terms of dollars and cents. They are the heartfelt letters, e-mails and cards I receive from people thanking me for guidance and advice.
People are either bowling balls or pins at a conference. If you’re the ball, with a dash of bravado and ingenuity, you leave a positive impression in your wake, create friendships. And achieve the goals on your agenda. The pins sit placidly by, waiting for something, anything, to happen to them.
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. I am going to argue that such people should be the cornerstones to any flourishing network. (Page 128, just in case you think I made that one up! Okay, I’ll admit to bolding the headhunter.)
Power today comes from sharing information, not withholding it. More than ever, the lines demarcating the personal and professional have blurred.
I believe that every conversation you have is an invitation to risk revealing the real you.
These days, I rarely blanch at the chance to introduce topics of conversation that some consider off-limits. Spirituality, romance, politics—these are some of the issues that make life worth living.
The real winners—those with astounding careers, warm relationships and unstoppable charisma—are those people who put it all out there and don’t waste a bunch of time trying to be something (or someone) they’re not. Your uniqueness is your power. We are all born with innate winning traits to be a masterful small talker.
The best way to become good at small talk is not to talk small at all.
Learn to touch people. Touching is a powerful act. Most people convey their friendly intentions by shaking hands; some go further by shaking with two hands. My favorite way to break through the distance between me and the person I’m trying to establish a bond with is to touch the other person’s elbow. It conveys just the right amount of intimacy and as such, is a favorite of politicians.
Nothing is sweeter to someone’s ears than their own name. At the moment of introduction, I visually attach a person’s name to their face. Seconds later, I’ll repeat the person’s name to make sure I got it, and then again periodically throughout the conversation.
If all else fails, five words that never do:
“You’re wonderful. Tell me more.”
I try to find out what motivations drive that person. It often comes down to one of three things: making money, finding love or changing the world.
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: “Every man I meet is superior in some way. In that, I learn of him.”
Michael Milken: “Keith, there are three things in this world that engender deep emotional bonds between people. They are health, wealth and children.”
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Joe Pelayo, C.P.C.
Joseph Michaels International
Global Recruiting Solutions
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