The author of this book heads up a marketing and sales consulting firm that advises Fortune 500 companies. According to Keith Ferrazzi, every success he accomplished in his life happened thanks to the web of people who support and counsel him. His brand new book (March 2005) is a step-by-step guide to building a lifelong community of partners, friends and mentors that will help you attain your goals at work as well as in life.

In today’s hyper-connected world, the people who find success are those who connect well with others, with no strings attached, and who likewise accept what others can do for them. Based on examples from Ferrazzi’s own life as well as anecdotes of legendary networkers such as Henry Kissinger, Dale Carnegie, Paul Revere and even the Dalai Lama, Never Eat Alone shows how having a wide network of genuine relationships is the springboard for achieving one’s goals, from finding a new job and becoming a more effective salesperson to being a better mentor and developing enduring friendships.

According to Ferrazzi, networking is not a quick schmooze or a haphazard collection of business cards; it is a thoughtful, well-executed plan that should be built as early as possible, i.e. you should start connecting with people long before you need anything from them.

This doesn’t mean that you network just to network. In order to network effectively, you need to be clear about what you want to accomplish and who you want to connect with. The next step is to compile a list of people you know and a list of people you want to meet. From these lists, you can start communicating with people on a regular basis to build trusting relationships. Ferrazzi calls it “pinging”: making follow-up telephone calls, sending e-mails, writing effective thank-you notes, invite new contacts to lunch or setting up meetings.

He also teaches how to maintain high visibility at parties, conferences and presentations. Another valuable section of Never Eat Alone is on the art of small talk. Ferrazzi maintains that on the topic of small talk, “the experts have gotten one thing wrong. They claim that when you first meet a person, you should avoid unpleasant, overly personal and highly controversial issues.” There is nothing more boring than skipping the controversial or personal in conversations. He shows how to make a lasting impression by putting oneself on the line and giving people a glimpse into one’s real personality and humanity.

Whether it’s advice on “building one’s brand” or being interesting, finding mentors or mentoring others, Never Eat Alone offers a compendium of wisdom for achieving fulfillment in all aspects of life. Perhaps its most important advice is: never keep score! Giving generously of yourself without expectations is key to achieving your dreams.

 

Hardcover, 298 pages; $24.95 Currency/Doubleday, 2005.