In his book “Never Eat Alone”, Keith Ferrazzi offers advice on how to build and utilize meaningful networks and relationships with others. Ferrazzi grew up under the care of a lower-middle class family and applied his networking power and prowess to work his way up to Yale, a Harvard M.B.A., and more than a few top executive job positions. Throughout the book he uses a blend of personal experiences, personal observations, and anecdotes about notable business people to help demonstrate the importance of exploiting one’s skillsets and assets to becoming prosperous both in the professional and personal aspects of life. Whilst the book is filled with a plethora of useful information, what has resonated with me the most are his use of a Networking Action Plan and the idea of “pinging”.
Right off the bat, Ferrazzi introduces the ideas that the more specific you are about what you want to do, the easier it will be to develop a strategy to accomplish it. Figuring out your passions and what you want to do with them is difficult, both in and beyond college. However, this book instructs that the first step is to write down any and all of your dreams and goals no matter how outlandish or pragmatic they may be. Next, it is important to make a list of the activities, people, and achievements that stimulate you and make a connection between the two lists. Once you have established these connections it is time to develop what Ferrazzi calls a Networking Action Plan. Here are the three steps:
- Part 1: Develop the goals that will help you fulfill your mission
- Make a list of what you would like to accomplish 3 years from today. Follow this by working backwards and making a list of short-term goals within small increments of time such as a few months or a year.
- Part 2: Connect those goals to the people, places, and things. Research and develop a list of a few people who you could seek out to connect you with the goals and missions
- Part 3: Determine the best way to reach out to the people who will help you accomplish your goals and begin connecting!
Something that is echoed throughout the book is the notion that we must build our networks before we may even need them. This is tied in with the idea that we should never stop “pinging” or staying in touch with those we have connected with. It is important to make connections with people to establish good relationships with them, not just when you need something. Remember, these relationships are not to be one sided. It is not an ask and you shall receive kind of deal; you must also be willing to offer some service of yours back to the other person. Never miss an opportunity to build upon your network whether this is through friends of friends, old acquaintances from school, or family. You won’t want to wait until you’re out on your own or out of a job to begin reaching out to others.
It is important to take advantage of the resources you have available to you. If you don’t know where to start, the Career Services office is an excellent tool for you to utilize to begin your professional network. Not only will the staff members be able to be the first members of your network, but they will also connect you with the other opportunities out there. The career expos and job fairs should be events you will start thinking of attending. “Never Eat Alone” was an enlightening book full of good tips and stories and I highly recommend it.