To succeed, who you know is just as important as what you know. In fact, relationships should be your top priority. The book Never Eat Alone talks about how to apply the timeless principles of relationships in the 21st century. It contains a lot of practical tips on how you could thrive in today’s world through your relationships. It’s one of the best books I read recently.
To give you only the gems, I’ve summarized what I learn from the book into 106 tips. Put these tips into practice and you will be a master connector who live a successful and fulfilling life:
- Make other people more successful
Real networking is about finding ways to make other people more successful. It is sharing your 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 your own.
- Work hard to give more than you get
It’s the value you bring that makes people want to connect with you. All this takes work. It means you have to think hard not only about yourself but also about other people.
- Don’t keep score
Don’t think of relationships as finite. In fact, it’s the exercising of equity that builds equity. There is no score to keep when abundance leads to even more abundance.
- Remember that the key to success is generosity
The currency of real networking is not greed but generosity.
- Find your mission in life
Intersection of your talents and desires is your “blue flame”. Which activities excite you the most, where you don’t even notice the hours that pass?
- Be specific about what you want
The more specific you are about what you want to do, the easier it becomes to develop a strategy to accomplish it.
- Make setting goals a habit
Something as simple as a clearly defined goal could distinguish you from all others. The kind of discipline that turns a dream into a mission, really just comes down to a process of setting goals.
- Create a Relationship Action Plan
There is a process involved in building a network. Your Relationship Action Plan consist of three sections:
1. Your goals up to three years from now in three months increments.
2. Names of people that could help you reach each goal.
3. Strategies to reach the people you list in point 2.
Once you have your plan, post it in a place where you will see it on regular basis.
- Create a Personal “Board of Advisors”
It helps to have enlightened counselors who will hold you accountable. They are your Personal “Board of Advisors”.
- Build your network before you need it
Reach out to others long before you need anything at all. The most important thing is to get to know those people as friends, not as potential customers.
- Start connecting with the people you do know
At the outset, concentrate on the people who are already part of your existing network.
- Be bold
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Audacity was often the only thing that separated two equally talented men and their job titles.
- Be willing to ask
Nothing in your life could create opportunity like a willingness to ask, whatever the situation. Until you become as willing to ask for help as you are to give it, you are only working half the equation. Remember that the worst anyone can say is no.
- Balance your fear
Mustering the audacity to talk with people who don’t know you often simply comes down to balancing the fear you have of embarrassment against the fear of failure. It’s between choosing risk and striving for greatness, or risking nothing and being certain of mediocrity.
- Treat people with respect
Treat people with respect up and down the ladder.
- Be transparent
Openness has become a valuable and much-sought-after attribute.
- Make friends
Those who are best at it don’t network – they make friends. A widening circle of influence is an unintended result, not a calculated aim.
- Do your homework
Spectacular achievement is always preceded by spectacular preparation. Whom you meet, how you meet them, and what they think of you afterward should not be left to chance.
- Be informed about whom you meet
If you are informed enough to step comfortably into their world and talk knowledgeably, their appreciation will be tangible. The idea is to find a point of common ground that is deep and rich. Then you’ll have an opportunity to bond and impress.
- Find out others’ interests
Find a way to become part of those things that are of most interest to them, and you will have found a way to become part of their life.
- Don’t eat alone
Food has a unique ability to facilitate conversation. Eating with other people is an effective way to build relationships.
- Organize and manage your information
The successful organization and management of the information that makes connecting flourish is vital. If you’re organized, focused, and a stickler for taking names, there’s no one that’s out of reach.
- Make lists
Create lists in your own categories (such as potential customers, potential acquirers, etc) that correspond to your goals. When you make such lists, it’s important you name the actual decision makers, and not just an organization.
- Know the most important players in your field
To make your goals possible, map the most important players in your field. Write down a list of “influentials” in that field.
- List the people you already know
Take time to list the people you already know such as: relatives, current colleagues, people you went to school with, former teachers, former employers, and so on.
- Be flexible in organizing your information
The way you organize your lists can be fluid. You could have lists by geographical location, by industry, whether they’re acquaintance or friend, and so on.
- Use other people’s lists to make your lists
One great resource for making lists is other people’s lists. Newspapers and magazines do rankings of this sort all the time.
- Create “aspirational contacts” list
Another category you might want to add is “aspirational contacts”. These are those extremely high-level people you want to know someday.
- Just plunge right in to cold call
When you are about to cold call, your fears will never be completely quieted. The trick is to just plunge right in. Envision yourself winning to win. You have to view getting to know new people as a challenge and an opportunity.
- Be persistent
Frequently, people won’t get back to you when you call or write them. You have to put your ego aside and persist in calling or writing. It is up to you to take the initiative. Sometimes, you have to be aggressive.
- Make warm calls
Use these four rules for warm calling:
1. Convey credibility: mention a familiar person or institution.
2. State your value proposition: what can you do for them?
3. Impart urgency and convenience: in most instances, the sole objective of the cold call is to get an appointment.
4. Be prepared to offer a compromise: go big at the outset, leaving room for compromise.
- Make the gatekeeper an ally rather than an adversary
Treat the gatekeepers with the dignity they deserve. Never, ever get on their bad side.
- Never, ever disappear
In building a network, remember: Above all, never, ever disappear. Invisibility is a fate far worse than failure.
- Work hard to remain visible and active
Keep your social and conference and event calendar full. You must work hard to remain visible and active among your ever-budding network of friends and contacts.
- Clone an event
You have to work hard to be successful at reaching out to others, but it doesn’t mean you have to work long. Clone an event to save time. You clone an event by inviting all the people you want to meet to join you.
- Have fun
Building network should be fun, not time-consuming.
- Share your passions
Shared interests are the basic building blocks of any relationship. When you are truly passionate about something, it’s contagious.
- Emphasize on the quality of time
Friendship is created out of the quality of time spent between two people, not the quantity.
- Follow up or fail
When you meet someone with whom you want to establish a relationship, take the extra little step to ensure you won’t be lost in their mental attic. Follow-up is the key to success in any field.
- Do your first follow up soon
Give yourself between 12 and 24 hours after you meet someone to follow up. E-mail is a fine tool for dropping a quick note.
- Don’t forget to do your second follow-up
In a month’s time, drop the person another e-mail, just to keep in touch.
- Spend your time at conferences to meet people
An all-too-common misperception is conferences are places to find insight. Wrong. Conferences are good for mainly one thing: they provide a forum to meet like-minded people.
- Be a conference commando
Don’t just be an attendee; be a conference commando. A conference commando is prepared in advance with information on who they were to meet, how, and where.
- Give speeches
Giving speeches is one of the easiest and most effective ways to get yourself remembered.
- Collect as many follow-ups as you can
Don’t be the persons that shadow their best friends the entire conference. Collect as many follow-ups as you can.
- Connect with super-connectors
Some people know many, many more people than the rest of us. Such people should be the cornerstones to any flourishing network. Once you become friendly with a super-connector, you’re only two degrees away from thousands of different people.
- Get as many acquaintances as you can
Often the most important people in our network are those who are acquaintances. Why? Because our close friends seldom know information that we don’t already know. The more acquaintances you have, the more powerful you are.
- Know people from many different worlds
The key is not only that we know thousands of people but that we know thousands of people in many different worlds, and we know them well enough to give them a call.
- Exchange your network with someone else’s
The most efficient way to enlarge your circle of friends is to connect your circle with someone else’s.
- Create your own host committees
Politicians have what are called “host committees”: group of well-connected people in their respective worlds. If you want more access to a world, see if you can find a central figure within that world to act as your own one-person host committee.
- Build your “verbal fluency”
“Verbal fluency” – the ability to confidently make conversation with anyone in any situation – is a common trait among the most accomplished people. “Getting-along skills,” more than anything else, determined who got ahead.
- Be yourself
When it comes to making an impression, differentiation is the name of the game. One guaranteed way to stand out: be yourself. Charm is simply a matter of being yourself. Your uniqueness is your power.
- Use the power of vulnerability
Vulnerability is one of the most underappreciated assets in business today. The power of the vulnerability principle in the art of making small talk is surprising.
- Talk from your heart
When you realize the best icebreaker is a few words from the heart, the act of starting a conversation becomes far less daunting.
- Learn the power of nonverbal cues
You have about ten seconds before a person decides, subconsciously, whether they like you or not. In that short period of time you don’t exchange a lot of words; their judgment is mostly based on nonverbal communication.
- Develop conversational currency
Be prepared to have something to say. Keep up with current events. Cultivate some niche interest.
- Learn to listen
One should seek first to understand, then to be understood.
- Always remember the other person’s name
Nothing is sweeter to someone’s ears than their own name.
- Be sincere
The surest way to become special in others’ eyes is to make them feel special.
- Try to find out what motivations drive the other person
In your initial conversation with someone, 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.
- Help someone accomplish his or her deepest desires
Initial invitation is just to connect strongly enough with other people to help them address the issues that matter to them most.
- Make yourself indispensable to others
Real power comes from being indispensable. Indispensability comes from being a switchboard, parceling out as much information, contacts, and goodwill to as many people – in as many different worlds – as possible.
- Start thinking about how you’re going to make everyone around you successful
When someone mentions a problem, try to think of solutions. The solutions come from your experience and knowledge, and your tool kit of friends and associates.
- Take the initiative to help
Don’t wait to be asked to help. Just do it.
- Be a knowledge broker
Performing social arbitrage when your financial and relational resources are thin is actually not too big a hurdle. The solution is knowledge. The ability to distribute knowledge in a network is a fairly easy skill to learn.
- Be interested to others’ success
You can be more successful in two months by becoming really interested in other people’s success than you can in two years trying to get other people interested in your own success (Dale Carnegie).
- Ping all the time
80 percent of building and maintaining relationships is just staying in touch (or “pinging”). Pinging takes effort. You have to keep pinging and pinging and pinging and never stop. You have to feed the fire of your network or it will wither or die.
- Repeat and repeat again
Becoming front and center in someone’s mental Rolodex is contingent on one invaluable little concept: repetition.
- Create a rating system
One way to make maintaining easier is to create a rating system for the network that corresponds to how often you reach out. For example:
1. A “1” gets contacted at least each month.
2. A “2” gets a quarterly call or e-mail.
3. A “3” gets reached at least once a year.
- Integrate pinging into your workflow
The important thing is that you build the concept of pinging into your workflow.
- Be personal
Always try to make any message as personal as possible.
- Don’t forget birthdays
Birthdays should be one of your favorite pinging occasions.
- Get anchor tenants for your dinner parties
We all have developed relationships with older, wiser, more experienced people. They are “anchor tenants”. Get them to add a little electricity to your dinner party.
- Be interesting
Virtually everyone new you meet in a situation is asking themselves a variation on one question: “Would I want to spend an hour eating lunch with this person?”
- Be a person of content
Content involves a much more specialized form of knowledge. It’s your differentiation. It’s the message that will make your brand unique. Have a unique point of view.
- Be relentless in learning and presenting your content
What will set you apart from everybody else is the relentlessness you bring to learning and presenting and selling your content.
- Acquire content from someone else’s
On some occasions, you can acquire content by simply appropriating another person’s innovative ideas and become a leader in distributing and applying those ideas.
- Develop your own content
On other occasions, you have to develop the content from scratch. That means taking all the disparate dots of information and connecting them in a way others have not.
- Get the attention
Once a resonating pitch is perfected, getting attention is less of a problem. Simply give the press what they need: great stories.
- Be an expert
The easiest route to become content creators is by expertise.Do what experts do: teach, write, and speak about your expertise.
- Teach what you want to learn
There’s no better way to learn something, and become an expert at it, than to have to teach it.
- Use stories to communicate your content
Powerful content communicated in a compelling story can energize your network to help you achieve your mission. In your stories, use emotion to convince your doubters.
- Have a personal brand
A powerful brand – built not on a product but on a personal message – is a competitive advantage. Good personal brands do three things: they provide a credible, distinctive, and trustworthy identity.
- Be distinct or extinct
Your brand articulates what you have to offer, why you’re unique, and gives a distinct reason for others to connect with you.
- Focus on adding value
To become a brand, you’ve got to become relentlessly focused on what you do that adds value. That means going above and beyond what’s called for.
- Develop your Personal Branding Message
What do you want people to think when they hear or read your name? Your positioning message should include a list of words that you want people to use when referring to you.
- Package the brand
Looks count, so you’d better look polished and professional. And why not create a personal Web site?
- Broadcast your brand
If you don’t promote yourself, no one else will. Like it or not, your success is determined as much by how well others know your work as by the quality of your work.
- Start building relationships with the media
You have to start today building relationships with the media before you have a story you’d like them to write.
- Trumpet the message, not the messenger
All your efforts at publicity need to feed into your mission, not your ego.
- Do collaborative writing
If you have any writing skills at all, you can get close to almost anyone by doing a piece on them, or with them. By writing collaboratively, you’re expanding your network exponentially with contacts that otherwise might have seemed out of reach.
- Write articles
Writing articles can be a great boost for your career. It provides instant credibility and visibility.
- Be a good writer by keep writing
To become a writer: “Write, then write some more. When you’re done – and here’s the kicker – keep writing.”
- Go for the big names
Are you only connecting with field mice? If you are, start turning your attention to reaching out to the sort of important people that can make a difference in your life and the lives of others.
- Build trust to get close to power
Trust is the essential element to get close to power; trust that you have no ulterior motives behind your approach; trust that you’ll deal with them as people and not as stars.
- Join associations
There is an association for everything. If you want to meet the movers and shakers directly, you have to become a joiner.
- Build your own club
Sometimes all clubs that seemed worth attending have their doors closed. There’s no reason not to build your own. Figure out what your unique selling proposition is, and start an organization. Invite those people you want to meet to join you.
- Be humble
Arrogance is a disease that can betray you into forgetting your real friends and why they’re so important. Be humble in your hike up the mountain. Help others up the mountain along with and before you.
- Reach back to your past
Reach back into your past regularly to touch base with the folks who have meant so much to you since you were a kid.
- Find mentors
Finding a talented, experienced mentor who is willing to invest the time and effort to develop you as a person and a professional is far more important than making career decisions based purely on salary or prestige.
- Learn from many people
There isn’t just one special person to be all things at all times. Mentors are all around you.
- Build a successful mentoring relationship
A successful mentoring relationship needs equal parts utility and emotion. Utility means promising something in return to your mentor. Emotion means your mentor becomes emotionally invested in your advancement.
- Find mentees
As much as you stretch yourself by reaching up, be sure you are stretching just as far to reach back and help others. You can learn so much from your mentees.
- Hold your principles
Connecting should advance, rather than compromise, your principles. Your determination to connect with others should never come at the expense of your values.
- Don’t try to balance your professional and personal life
Balance is a myth. Real connecting insists that you bring the same values to every relationship. As such, dividing your life between professional and personal spheres no longer made sense.
- Build close relationships
How many people can walk into your homes and just open up the fridge and help themselves? It is close relationships like these that keep you well-adjusted, happy, and successful.