Saturday, July 12, 2014

Come out of your shell and network already!

The rise in social networking tools like Facebook and LinkedIn have made it very easy for individuals to make contact with others in their field.  Many people, however, are still reluctant to reach out on anything other than a superficial level to others, especially those who might hold a higher position than they do.  In the book Never Eat Alone, author Keith Ferrazzi stresses the importance of creating a large network of people who can help and be helped by you.  By having contacts across many different areas, he argues that you will be creating opportunities for generosity which will ultimately benefit you in ways that might not at first be apparent.

The book begins with attempting to overcome the reluctance to reach out that many people have.  The author mentions many times that he offered to help people newly starting out in their fields with job interviews, introductions or internships, only to be rebuffed because the recipients of his generosity didn't want to feel indebted to him.  He goes on to stress the importance of creating connections precisely so that you will be able to help those who need it when you seen an opportunity to do so -- without "keeping score."  Although he does also frequently mention how he "keeps up" with how young people he's helped are doing in their careers . . .

Once you have accepted that you need to increase your personal and/or professional network, strategies are offered that will help achieve this.  He advises how to "do your homework" to make connections as well as keep a list of "aspirational names" of business leaders that you hope to meet one day.  He also gives advice on how to make the dreaded "cold call" to make connections and how to get around gatekeepers that are employed precisely to protect their bosses from people like us!  This new edition of the book has also been updated to include information on how to network, market yourself and gain followers on the newer social platforms.

One thing I found amusing was the chapter titled, "Never Give in to Hubris," because on nearly every page there is reference to the awards the author's been given, the celebrities he's worked with, the many young people who are clamoring for his knowledge, and generally how important he is.  It felt like a lot of bragging and name-dropping and honestly took away from the message of the book.  He should re-read his anti-hubris chapter before the next edition comes out!  If you can overlook all the self-congratulation, there are some good messages to take from the book about building connections and helping yourself by helping others.

Disclaimer:  I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.

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