“Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time” is a self help book about networking by Keith Ferrazzi. The bestselling nonfiction book transcends genres such as business, personal development, leadership, entrepreneurship and networking. It is a handbook for aspirants who wish to progress in life and especially those who wish to climb up the ladder of personal and professional successes. In the words of the author, networking is essentially reaching out to people, others who are perhaps more influential and also those who are not so but can add value in some form. Keith Ferrazzi discusses his own life, brings forth interesting events and experiences, shares secrets of his master networking skills and lays out a path for young professionals and entrepreneurs to truly achieve what they are meant to and be assuredly successful.
What is Never Eat Alone all about?
Never Eat Alone imparts many lessons and its omnipresent theme is the omnipotence of relationships, how everyone connected has a chance to win. Ferrazzi discusses specific steps to develop the mindset that is necessary to connect with thousands of associates, colleagues, friends and influencers from various walks of life and to use that ever growing network to great advantage.
Ferrazzi has a simple way of connecting with people that he also discusses in the book. He uses generosity, he believes in helping friends and not just to connect with others they need but also when there is a possibility of lending a hand, he clearly draws the line between genuine relationships and networking with a noble purpose than the crude and desperate networking maneuvers that have become the common perception and also a widespread manifestation. Ferrazzi lists a few principles that are practical and proven. These have been perfected by him after extensive practice over the years.
The book discusses how people should not keep a score of who is getting what in return and if there is an imbalance somewhere. Networking is not about keeping score but about accomplishing what one has set out for. It is necessary to focus on what is important than letting a sense of balance or scorekeeping distract one from the primary aim. The book discusses the importance of continuous networking and how one must remain in contact with everyone in the ever expanding network. One of the mistakes most people commit is explore their network only when they need. This is exploitative and definitely selfish, reasons why many people fail miserably at networking.
Never Eat Alone basically tells people to avoid being invisible. It is a recipe for failure and worse. Ferrazzi’s strategies seem to be timeless as they have been employed by many time and again across cultures and civilizations in various industries and walks of life. Ferrazzi also lays out specific advices on how to handle rejection, how to deal with gatekeepers, how one can become a conference champion and other simple but useful tactics to actually set up a network that works. The book is motivational, inspirational and instructional.
Who is Keith Ferrazzi
Keith Ferrazzi is an American entrepreneur, author and public speaker. He founded Ferrazzi Greenlight and is presently the chairman of the research and consulting firm based in Los Angeles, California. He has two New York Times bestselling books to his credit. The second is “Who’s Got Your Back?”
Keith Ferrazzi was born in Pennsylvania where he completed his schooling. He went to Yale and was one of the founders of the Sigma Chi chapter. He attended Harvard Business School and joined Deloitte after graduating. Ferrazzi grew quickly from an entry level analyst to the chief marketing officer of the company before we moved to Starwood Hotels in a similar role at the age of thirty two. He was one of the youngest chief marketing officers of a Fortune 500 company. He quit Starwood Hotels in 2000 to establish a marketing and entertainment company called YaYa Media. He sold the startup to American Vantage three years later. Ferrazzi founded Ferrazzi Greenlight and later Greenlight Research Institute. The firm and the institute work on positive relationships and success in business.
He realized his ability to connect with people rather early in life. He managed to secure a scholarship that powered him through Yale and later an MBA from Harvard. He held top executive posts at reputed companies and was listed on Crain’s 40 Under 40. He was also identified by Davos World Economic Forum as a Global Leader for Tomorrow. Even before he turned forty, Ferrazzi had his network spanning the A-List of Hollywood to the corridors of power in Washington.
Key Takeaways from Never Eat Alone
There are quite a few undercurrents you will realize as you read the book. The author drives home the point that it does not matter what or how much you know but who all you know. The author even conveys, subtly and not so in some instances, that your network is effectively your net worth. These are not philosophies or reality checks being imparted by Keith Ferrazzi. These are spoken at every college or university campus where any course has even a remote connection with business, any particular profession or marketing, branding and management in general. The book can offer insights to entrepreneurs, professionals and aspirants as well as students.
One of the key takeaways in the book is passion. The author writes and rightly so that people care about passion. Not every investor or potential partner will like you or perhaps be in awe of what you have to offer but they may get drawn to your passion. There is more than something infectious about passion. It is good to have a promising idea. It is even better to have a promising idea that you are passionate about. Ideas die but those that are truly a passion or integral to the emotion and pursuit are hard to kill.
Mission drives passion so it is important to have an endgame, at least for others to know about. There should be an end of the road for others to know they are in for a ride and will benefit during the run till such time they need to get off. There is nothing such as endless passion. An objective drives passion so people should have a mission before approaching others for what they need or want.
Ferrazzi discusses the importance and might of human psychology in the book. Psychology is actually at the crux of who we are as it determines how we perceive ourselves, what we like to do and what we actually do, how we want the world to see us and the decisions, actions or reactions we give in. Networkers must understand how the human mind works, how emotions play a powerful role in almost everything and how even the most calculative can be swayed with the right mix of passion, mission and promise.
The author iterates and reiterates the importance of relationships, not transactional but those that are truly valuable. Keith Ferrazzi does not believe in crude exchanges or exploitative relationships. He believes in adding value, bringing something to the table and valuing a relationship over a course of time, perhaps forever in many cases. Networkers need to regard their contacts as relationships and not just troubleshooters or first responders, crisis managers or friends in need.
The book discusses the importance of being present and there where it matters, to show up at important places and events, to get involved and to be seen getting involved. There is no dearth of talented and knowledgeable people in the world. Most of them are unknown, not because they are not worthwhile but owing to the fact that no one knows them. Staying closeted is not going to help anyone. It is not as if networkers are seeking out contacts only for their own benefits. There is mutual interest in most cases. Everyone is being selfish and being generous at the same time since everybody wins if things go right.
Keith Ferrazzi believes in developing a personal brand. This has actually become quite important in the last fifty years, ever since personality driven enterprises have started grabbing all the attention. It is necessary for networkers to establish themselves as a brand that can be relied upon, a maverick of sorts that can be trusted to do the unthinkable or what others are incapable of.
Never Eat Alone is a useful self help book but not for those who have already read about such strategies or tactics before. There is a lot of information that has already been discussed at length in other books by many successful people. The author is also on a self congratulatory mode in many parts of the book, which surely does not help the informed reader.
Read about Outliers here. The debate about whether success is bred or nurtured.