A good book that’s mostly about networking, but also some general business smarts. Definitely read if you need more work being social.
The people who had reached professional heights unknown to my father and mother helped each other. They found one another jobs, they invested time and money in one another’s ideas, and they made sure their kids got help getting into the best schools, got the right internships, and ultimately got the best jobs. Before my eyes, I saw proof that success breeds success and, indeed, the rich do get richer. Their web of friends and associates was the most potent club.
Success in any field, but especially in business, is about working with people, not against them.
Connecting: sharing my 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 my own.
I learned that real networking was about finding ways to make other people more successful. It was about working hard to give more than you get.
The key to success in one word: generosity.
You’ve got to be more than willing to accept generosity. Often, you’ve got to go out and ask for it.
Until you become as willing to ask for help as you are to give it, you are only working half the equation.
A network functions precisely because there’s recognition of mutual need. There’s an implicit understanding that investing time and energy in building personal relationships with the right people will pay dividends.
You can’t amass a network of connections without introducing such connections to others with equal fervor.
If I’m going to take the time to meet with somebody, I’m going to try to make that person successful.
It’s better to give before you receive. And never keep score.
It’s easier to get ahead in the world when those below you are happy to help you get ahead, rather than hoping for your downfall.
Which activities excite you the most, where you don’t even notice the hours that pass?
Bill Clinton writing down details of each person: “I’m going into politics and plan to run for governor of Arkansas, and I’m keeping track of everyone I meet.”
The forty-second president made it a nightly habit to record, on index cards, the names and vital information of every person whom he’d met that day.
Clinton’s unique ability to create an almost instantaneous intimacy with whomever he’s talking to. Clinton doesn’t just recall your personal information; he uses the information as a means to affirm a bond with you.
Viewing my employees as partners to be wooed in achieving my long-term objectives and theirs.
“Dear Keith, I hear you’re a good networker. I am, too. Let’s sit down for fifteen minutes and a cup of coffee.” Why? I ask myself. Why in the world do people expect me to respond to a request like that? Have they appealed to me emotionally? Have they said they could help me? Have they sought some snippet of commonality between us?
At a conference, when I run into someone I’ve been dying to meet, I don’t hide my enthusiasm. “It’s a pleasure to finally meet you. I’ve admired your work from afar for quite some time and been thinking how beneficial it might be if we could meet one another.”
Reaching out to others is not a numbers game. Your goal is to make genuine connections with people you can count on.
An inner truth about the skill of reaching out to others: Those who are best at it don’t network – they make friends.
Before I meet with any new people I’ve been thinking of introducing myself to, I research who they are and what their business is. I find out what’s important to them: their hobbies, challenges, goals – inside their business and out. Before the meeting, I generally prepare, or have my assistant prepare, a one-page synopsis on the person I’m about to meet.
I want to know what this person is like as a human being, what he or she feels strongly about, and what his or her proudest achievements are.
Be up-to-date on what’s happening within the company of a person you want to establish a relationship with. Did the person have a good or bad quarter? Do they have a new product? Trust me, all people naturally care, generally above and beyond anything else, about what it is they do. If you are informed enough to step comfortably into their world and talk knowledgeably, their appreciation will be tangible. As William James wrote: “The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.”
Setting out to know someone inevitably means understanding what their problems or needs are.
Reach beyond the abstract and get to someone as an individual. 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.
During mixers, I like to hang out near the bar.
The challenge in such circumstances, as it is in every conversation, is to try to transcend the trivialities of polite chitchat.
Find a point of common ground that is deeper and richer than what can be discovered in a serendipitous encounter. Armed with knowledge about a person’s passions, needs, or interests, you can do more than connect; you’ll have an opportunity to bond and impress.
I never shy away from mentioning the research I’ve done. I always make a special effort to inquire about the people I’d like to meet. Inevitably, people are flattered. Wouldn’t you be? Instantly, the other person knows that rather than suffering through a strained half hour with a stranger, they’re able to connect with someone with whom they share an interest, someone who has gone out of his way to get to know them better.
I mapped out the most important players in both the online and games industries, from CEOs and journalists to programmers and academics. My goal was to get to know almost all of them within a year. To create excitement around our product, I wrote down a list of people I called “influentials”: the early adopters, journalists, and industry analysts that help spread the initial buzz about a product or service. Next, I made a list of potential customers, potential acquirers, and people who might be interested in funding us down the road.
Aspirational contacts: those extremely high-level people who have nothing to do with my business at hand but are just interesting or successful or both.
You have to view getting to know new people as a challenge and an opportunity. The very idea should spark your competitive fires, silencing the wallflower in you.
Cold calls are for suckers. I don’t call cold – ever. I’ve created strategies that ensure every call I make is a warm one.
When I call someone directly whom I haven’t spoken with before, I try to call at an unusual time. Someone who is busy is more likely to pick up their own phone at 8:00 A.M. or 6:30 P.M. Plus, they’re probably less stressed out since they’re not facing typical nine-to-five pressures. I called in the early morning, but got Serge’s voice mail. So I left a message: “I just want to reiterate my excitement regarding our meeting. I’ve never heard John talk so flatteringly of a business associate. I understand how busy you must be. I haven’t heard from your administrative assistant, but I’m sure I will. See you soon.” At no point do you want your interactions to become strained. Creating and maintaining a sense of optimism and gentle pressure around the appointment is all part of the dance.
In fifteen seconds, I used my four rules for what I call warm calling:
1) Convey credibility by mentioning a familiar person or institution – in this case, John, Jeff, and WebMD.
2) State your value proposition: Jeff’s new product would help Serge sell his new products.
3) Impart urgency and convenience by being prepared to do whatever it takes whenever it takes to meet the other person on his or her own terms.
4) Be prepared to offer a compromise that secures a definite follow-up at a minimum.
That was Ken’s five-minute sales pitch. It was 98 percent value-add for me, 2 percent sales pitch by him.
Invisibility is a fate far worse than failure.
In building a network, remember: Above all, never, ever disappear. Keep your social and conference and event calendar full. As an up-and-comer, you must work hard to remain visible and active among your ever-budding network of friends and contacts.
I don’t clone myself. I clone the event. I’m constantly looking to include others in whatever I’m doing. It’s good for them, good for me, and good for everyone to broaden their circle of friends.
If I’m meeting someone whom I don’t know that well, I might invite someone I do know just to make sure the meeting does not become a waste.
I’ve never been to a so-called “networking event” in my life. If properly organized, these get-togethers in theory could work. Most, however, are for the desperate and uninformed. The average attendees are often unemployed.
I can’t tell you how many valuable clients and contacts I’ve met during a conversation struck up during an in-flight meal. (By the way, this is the only acceptable time to bother your seat mate.)
Friendship is created out of the quality of time spent between two people, not the quantity. There is a misconception that to build a bond, two people need to spend a great deal of time together. This is not the case.
The follow-up I remember best is the one I got first.
“It was a pleasure meeting you. We must keep in touch.” In such an e-mail, I like to cite something particular we talked about in the course of our conversation – whether a shared hobby or business interest – that serves as a mental reminder of who I am. When I leave the meeting, I put the name and e-mail address of the new acquaintance in my database and program my PDA or BlackBerry to remind me in a month’s time to drop the person another e-mail, just to keep in touch.
But remember – and this is critical – don’t remind them of what they can do for you, but focus on what you might be able to do for them. It’s about giving them a reason to want to follow up.
Setting goals ahead of time is what turns a casual conference attendance into a mission.
They provide a forum to meet the kind of like-minded people who can help you fulfill your mission and goals.
While others quietly sit taking notes, content to sip their free bottled water, successful connectors are setting up one-on-one meetings, organizing dinners, and, in general, making each conference an opportunity to meet people who could change their life.
People are either bowling balls or pins at a conference. If you’re the ball, you walk (or roll) into a conference, event, or an organization, and you blow it apart. With a dash of bravado and ingenuity, you leave a positive impression in your wake, create friendships, and achieve the goals on your agenda. The pins sit placidly by, waiting for something, anything, to happen to them.
Help the organizer. Better yet, be the organizer.
An opportunity for you to come in and help out – and become an insider in the process. Once you’re on the inside, you can find out who will be attending and what the hot events will be. And you’ll find yourself at all those unlisted dinners and cocktail parties that are thrown for the conference poobahs.
How powerful it was to know, in advance, who would be attending.
Giving speeches is one of the easiest and most effective ways to get yourself, your business, and your ideas seen, heard of, and remembered.
There are thousands of forums and events going on – for every imaginable reason – each and every day. All these forums need a warm body to say something the slightest bit inspiring or insightful to their guests. Most speakers, unfortunately, deliver neither.
If you take the first step and get to know the organizer, landing a speaking gig isn’t that tough.
Before the event, I’ll scout out a nice nearby restaurant and send out pre-invites to a private dinner that I’ll host alongside the scheduled affair.
Sending a fax to the hotel (most conferences have one host hotel where most VIPs will be staying) that the individuals get when they arrive the night before the conference asking them to join a group for dinner or drinks that night. Think about it: no secretaries to screen the message.
As with college, everyone likes to get off campus.
If the conference is in your hometown, be bold enough to invite people to your home for a real treat.
You must remember to talk with speakers before they’ve hit the stage.
The two minutes you’re given with someone you’re “bumping into” whom you are looking to meet. Your goal should be to leave the encounter with an invitation to reconnect at a later time. The bump, like other practices, is nuanced. The perfect bump is one that feels both fast and meaningful at the same time. I call this ideal a “deep bump.” Deep bumps are an effort to quickly make contact, establish enough of a connection to secure the next meeting, and move on.
Creating a connection between any two people necessitates a certain level of intimacy. In two minutes, you need to look deeply into the other person’s eyes and heart, listen intently, ask questions that go beyond just business, and reveal a little about yourself in a way that introduces some vulnerability (yes, vulnerability; it’s contagious!) into the interaction. All these things come together to create a genuine connection.
I never once heard Clinton ask for a vote or talk about himself when engaged in these quick, casual encounters. His questions always revolved around what the other person was thinking, what was troubling them.
You have to get people to like you first. The sales come later – in the follow-up discussions you have after the conference. Now is the time to begin to build trust and a relationship.
Determine where most people will gather, or at least pass, and station yourself there. This might be near the food table, the bar, or the reception area.
Your weak ties, on the other hand, generally occupy a very different world than you do. They’re hanging out with different people, often in different worlds, with access to a whole inventory of knowledge and information unavailable to you and your close friends.
When in a new city, I generally ask people to give me a list of a few of the hottest (and most established) restaurants. I like to call ahead and ask to speak with the owner (though the maître d’ will do) and tell them that I go out regularly, sometimes in large parties, and I’m looking for a new place to entertain, a lot! Once you get to know the owner, it’ll become like your very own restaurant.
Journalists are powerful (the right exposure can make a company or turn a nobody into a somebody), needy (they’re always looking for a story), and relatively unknown (few have achieved enough celebrity to make them inaccessible).
If you are sharing someone else’s circle of friends, be sure that you adequately acknowledge the person who ushered you into this new world, and do so in all the subsequent connections that they helped foster.
Small talk – the kind that happens between two people who don’t know each other – is the most important talk we do.
So what should your objective be in making small talk? Good question. The goal is simple: Start a conversation, keep it going, create a bond, and leave with the other person thinking, “I dig that person.”
When it comes to making an impression, differentiation is the name of the game. Confound expectation. Shake it up. How? There’s one guaranteed way to stand out in the professional world: Be yourself. I believe that vulnerability – yes, vulnerability – is one of the most underappreciated assets in business today.
Not many secrets are worth the energy required to keep them secret.
Be honest, open, and vulnerable enough to genuinely allow other people into your life so that they can be vulnerable in return.
Every conversation you have is an invitation to risk revealing the real you.
There are always fail-safe conversation starters suitable for every business function: How did you get started in your business? What do you enjoy most about your profession? Tell me about some of the challenges of your job? But safety – whether in conversation, business, or life – generally produces “safe” (read: boring) results.
Maintain a good balance of eye contact. If you maintain an unblinking stare 100 percent of the time, that qualifies as leering. That’s plain scary. If you keep eye contact less than 70 percent of the time, you’ll seem disinterested and rude. Somewhere in between is the balance you’re looking for.
In conducting small talk, we should be aware of the different styles at play and adapt to the person we’re talking with. I know I can be gregarious and fun and outspoken when meeting with my staff staff. In a meeting with my loyalty-management strategy consultants, who are much more analytical, I ratchet down the excitement and focus on being more deliberate and precise. If we address someone with the wrong style, the window may close shut with nothing revealed. No connection is made. Throughout my day, I come into contact with hundreds of different people, each with their own distinct communication style. The concept of the Johari Window has helped me become conscious of my need to adapt my conversational approach to each person I want to connect with. One helpful technique I use is to try and envision myself as a mirror to the person with whom I’m speaking. What’s the cadence of their speech? How loudly do they talk? What’s their body language? By adjusting your behavior to mirror the person you are talking to, he’ll automatically feel more comfortable.
In order to establish a lasting connection, small talk needs to end on an invitation to continue the relationship.
Take the initiative and be the first person to say hello. This demonstrates confidence and immediately shows your interest in the other person. When the conversation starts, don’t interrupt.
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.
The only way to get people to do anything is to recognize their importance and thereby make them feel important. Every person’s deepest lifelong desire is to be significant and to be recognized.
Helping someone accomplish his or her deepest desires is critical not only to forming a bond with someone but to keeping that bond strong and growing.
When you help someone through a health issue, positively impact someone’s personal wealth, or take a sincere interest in their children, you engender life-bonding loyalty.
The necessities of subsistence, security, and sex. It is within this lower group – where health, wealth, and children reside – where loyalty is created. In addressing those three fundamental issues, you accomplish two things:
1) You help someone fulfill those needs they most need met
2) You allow them the opportunity to move up the pyramid of needs to tackle some of their higher desires.
Stop driving yourself – and everyone else – crazy thinking about how to make yourself successful. Start thinking about how you’re going to make everyone around you successful.
80 percent of building and maintaining relationships is just staying in touch. I call it “pinging.” It’s a quick, casual greeting.
If you want to transform a contact into a friend, you need a minimum of two face-to-face meetings out of the office.
You need to nurture a developing relationship with a phone call or e-mail at least once a month.
Anyone who can add a little electricity to your dinner party is an anchor tenant. Journalists, I’ve found, are terrific anchor guests.
Six to ten guests, I’ve found, is the optimal number to invite to a dinner. When someone says they cannot come because of another dinner or engagement, I often suggest they come before the dinner for drinks and appetizers, or even after, for dessert and drinks. Thursdays are wonderful days for dinner parties. It doesn’t cut into people’s weekend plans and yet folks are willing to go a little late knowing that they have only one day left in the work week. Get your invites out early – at least a month in advance. Candles, flowers, dim lighting, and music set a good mood. Always underdress just so no one else feels they did. Don’t seat couples together.
You need a well-thought-out point of view.
Know what you have that most others do not. It’s your differentiation. It’s your expertise.
Creativity in business is often nothing more than making connections that everyone else has almost thought of. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, just attach it to a new wagon.
Once a resonating pitch is perfected, getting attention is less of a problem. Journalists are hungry for ideas. Getting access to them is often as simple as calling the magazine or newspaper they work for, which can be found on their Web site, and asking to speak with the reporter that covers your beat.
I’d latch on to the latest, most cutting-edge idea in the business world. I’d immerse myself in it, getting to know all the thought leaders pushing the idea and all the literature available. I’d then distill that into a message about the idea’s broader impact to others and how it could be applied in the industry I worked in. That was the content. Becoming an expert was the easy part. I simply did what experts do: I taught, wrote, and spoke about my expertise.
I only really became an expert once I started trying to teach
Starting today, you’ve got to figure out what exceptional expertise you’re going to master that will provide real value
Identify the people in your industries who always seem to be out in front, and use all the relationship skills you’ve acquired to connect with them. Take them to lunch. Read their newsletters. In fact, read everything you can. Online, there are hundreds of individuals distilling information, analyzing it, and making prognostications. These armchair analysts are the eyes and ears of innovation.
You have to start today building relationships with the media before you have a story you’d like them to write. Send them information. Meet them for coffee. Call regularly to stay in touch. Give them inside scoops on your industry. Establish yourself as a willing and accessible source of information, and offer to be interviewed for print, radio, or TV.
Rather than listen more closely to his angle, I tried to impress upon him what I thought the real story was about. Big mistake! If a reporter calls you, states his story and the angle he’s taking, you can be sure you’ll be used as an example to buttress his angle. Rare is the occasion that a journalist will hear you out and say, “Oh my God, you’re right! I’m going about it all wrong.”
As in any interview, your primary objective when you meet with a member of the press is to get the person across from you to like you. The reporter is human.
What’s an editor going to say when you pitch him or her an idea? Probably something like “Sure, sounds great. Very busy. Gotta go. Let me see it when it’s done.” This is how editors talk and this is what they invariably say. But now, when you call others to interview them, you’re not just Joe Shmo, you’re Joe Shmo calling about an article targeted for the Poughkeepsie Gazette.
A lion, he says, can use his prodigious hunting skills to capture a field mouse with relative ease anytime he wants, but at the end of the day, no matter how many mice he’s ensnared, he’ll still be starving.
The more accomplished the people we associate with, the greater our aspirations become.
Trust is the essential element of mixing with powerful and famous people – trust that you’ll be discreet; trust that you have no ulterior motives behind your approach; trust that you’ll deal with them as people and not as stars; and basically trust that you feel like a peer who deserves to be engaged as such. The first few moments of an encounter is the litmus test for such a person to size up whether he or she can trust you in these ways or not. They often fret over the fact that their public persona becomes indistinguishable from their private personality. They feel misunderstood and underappreciated for who they really are. To assure them that you’re interested in them for themselves, rather than what the public perceives them to be, stay away from their fame and focus, instead, on their interests. Take them away from what they are normally barraged with.
Find Mentors, Find Mentees, Repeat.
When you’re out of balance, you’ll know because you’ll be rushed, angry, and unfulfilled. When you’re balanced, you’ll be joyful, enthusiastic, and full of gratitude.
Refrigerator Rights: How many people can walk into our homes and just open up the fridge and help themselves?