I have had the great privilege to meet the author of this book on several occasions and haven gone to a couple of the famous dinners referenced in the book. Those interactions are the reason I decided to pick-up Never Eat Alone. I have never been the best at relationships and I know it hurts me both personally and professionally. Several times I have observed that I would probably be better off at work if I did an hour less work every day and spent that time getting coffee or meals with various people around the office. Over the long term I know it would make me more productive to have those connections, but for some reason, I can’t bring myself to do it.
Because this is Better Every Day, I know this isn’t something embedded in my DNA that will be with me forever. Making connections and networking is a skill that can be learned just like any other. For that reason I embarked on a multi-book series to help get inside the mind of some serious networkers and Keith was the first person who came to mind. I will admit, I still have a hard time not thinking of networking as a gimmick or some way to get an edge over people without doing the work. As someone who receives way too many cold calls from sales people every day, I know I can’t do that. But luckily for me, Keith set things on the right path early on with his description of networking.
I learned that real networking was about finding ways to make other people more successful.
There is a fine line between networking and selling and in my mind it is all about intent. Your intent needs to truly be helping other people and then they will help you without you even needing to ask.
The Relationship Action Plan
Keith has a straight forward 3-part worksheet to set you on your path of building worthwhile relationships
- Develop the goals which will help fulfill your mission in life.
- The previous chapter was devoted to coming up with your mission but now you need to start dividing that into discrete goals. Those goals should start with a 3 year time horizon, and then you work backwards for what you want to have done in 2 years, then 1 year, then 9, 6 and 3 months. In each time frame you should have 2 goals, one minimum goal and a stretch goal.
- The most important thing is for these goals to be specific. Ever heard of SMART goals? Make those.
- Connect those Goals to People who can help you achieve them.
- You should cast a wide net in your definition of who can help. This could be people who have been down that path before, people who can get information for you, people employed at the company you want to work for, etc.
- Remember to work backwards in the people who want to connect with just like the goals you have. If in three years you want to be able to sit down with President Obama, work backwards from that lofty point so you know who you should be trying to meet now.
- Determine the best way to reach out to those people.
- The choice here is probably the medium. If the individual is an Instagram influencer, Snap might not work as a medium to reach out to them. If they have no online presence, you need to figure out how to get invited to the same parties for a face to face meeting.
- Once you figure out how you want to reach out to them, you need to select a message. The key question here is, how can I bring this person value. You need to read with value, then more value, then more value, before you can ever think about asking for anything.
Pre-work and Post-work
Don’t just find a way to meet someone and then go meet them. You need to have a system for preparing for a meeting and ensuring the relationship takes root after the meeting.
- Google is an amazing treasure trove of information. Even if you don’t find information, that gives you information because it will show how active someone is online and how much information they like to share.
- Social Media accounts are plentiful these days but many people have their preferences. LinkedIn is probably the default for professional contacts you should search other feeds like Twitter and Instagram as well. Also search for company accounts.
- Company & Professional Information like quarterly reports can give you a detailed sense of what their world is like. This might be too much work for a casual encounter but if it is an important connection it might be worth it.
- Between 12 and 24 hours after an initial meeting or introduction with someone, you should be following-up in some form like an email or a personal note.
- Be short, express gratitude, mention something from the meeting.
- Make social media connection requests after your follow-up email.
Nurturing you Network
Meeting people is great but unless you have a process for getting past those initial meetings into the territory of real relationships, you are always going to be limited in what you can achieve. Here are a few guidelines Keith had for how to from your relationships.
- Three different lines of communication are required before your name will really stick in someones brain. An example could be a phone call to setup a meeting, a face-to-face meeting, then a follow-up email.
- Developing relationships require a phone call or email at least once a month. Maintenance of secondary relationships requires a call or email 2-3 times per year.
- Turning a contact into a friend requires at least two face-to-face meetings outside the office.
You must develop a system for tracking the important relationships in your life and making sure you contact them at a cadence that makes sense. There are a number of online tools for this now like Contactually that can help. If you think thats cheating I would like to ask you why you use an alarm to wake up in the morning. If you really cared about getting to work on time you would just wake up right?
No one becomes an astronaut by accident.
Whom you meet, how you meet them, and what they think of you afterward should not be left to chance.
Who you know determines how effectively you can apply what you know.
Overall, I still had to get past a few sales feeling ideas but I still really like the book. I need to get better about practicing these behaviors and Keith does a good job of breaking them down in ways which are very actionable.