Are you an introvert? Are you the person who doesn’t like to socialize or network with a whole bunch of people? Then this will be a read for you. Keith Ferrazzi goes through everything it takes to become a master networker, from adopting the right mindset to utilizing tactics and strategies to build successful relationships in business and life.
So what does it take to become a great networker?
Firstly, you must adopt the right mindset.
You should know what your mission is in life. Figuring out what you love doing and want to achieve is important, since it will allow you to build a network consisting of the people that will help you achieving that mission.
Keith Ferrazzi believes that generosity is the critical concept in achieving success. You must GIVE first, before you can receive. Adopting this giving-mindset is crucial in becoming a successful networker.
Besides this, you must have the actual audacity to talk to people and ask them things. You must get actively involved in your niche, ask questions to role models and be willing to contribute.
Secondly, you must understand the skill set of a successful networker.
More specifically, you must:
- Do your homework:
When you meet/call someone new, you must always do your homework. Know who you meet. Do some research. What are the passions, interests, and goals of the person you meet? Understanding their needs and problems is a sure-fire way to connect with them on a deeper level and create business opportunities.
- Take names:
Keep a list of all people that can help you in achieving your goals. Figure out which people matter. These are the ones you want to remember their names of.
- Master the art of cold calling:
Although you will never feel ready for it, cold calling is a critical skill of each successful networker. Keith Ferrazzi identifies 4 steps to effectively cold call a person and arrange a meet-up.
- Draft off a reference to build credibility: name someone the other party knows personally. This gives him or her a reason to stay on the phone.
- State your value: what can you do for that person/business? Explain very clearly what you can offer as value to the other party.
- Impart urgency to set up a meeting with the other party: Ask for meet-up (Make it as specific as possible: set date and time)
- Be willing to compromise if necessary: If the other party can’t make it at that specific time, be willing to adapt and suggest an alternative.
- Learn to manage the gatekeeper:
You want to keep gatekeepers your friends. These are the bridges between you and the actual person you want connect with. These can be assistants, secretaries, etc. The better your relationship with the gatekeeper, the higher the chance you’ll meet the end-person.
- Never eat alone:
Always put yourself out there. Go out and meet new people. Go to events, conferences, seminars, etc. The more people you’ll meet, the higher the chance you’ll meet a person that will help move you forward.
- Share your passions:
Make a list of all things you’re passionate about and make it a reference for choosing the events, conferences, Keith Ferrazzi argues that the more passionately you can talk about yourself and your goals, the deeper the relationships you will build.
He quotes brilliantly:
“Shared interests are the basic building blocks of any relationship. Race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or business, professional and personal interest are relational glue. It makes sense, then, that events and activities where you’ll thrive are those built around interests you’re most passionate about.”
Don’t go to a network event just “o go to a network event.” Go to places that allow you to talk genuinely about what you’re passionate about.
THIS IS CRITICAL. Following up is an essential networking skill. Whenever you want to establish a relationship, you must take this step to make sure you’ll get remembered.
Always make sure you get the contact information of the person you meet. Put these details in your contact list on your phone, your notebook, etc. Keith Ferrazzi suggests following up between 12 and 24 hours after you meet that person. You can follow-up using email, text or a phone call. In your follow-up message, BE SURE to focus on what you might be able to DO FOR THEM. You must give them a reason to follow-up with you.
Tip: Forward some relevant articles that the person you’ve met might be interested in. This is a great way of providing value.
- Go to conferences
Conferences are a great place to meet new people in your niche. Like Keith describes: “Conferences provide a forum to meet the kind of like-minded people who can help you fulfill your mission and goals.”. Be as active as possible when attending conferences: try to give a speech, talk to influential people, ask questions, take pictures to tweet, share stories and build connections.
- Connect with “super-connectors”
You probably all know that one person that knows everyone. These people, Ferrazzi argues, are super-connectors. These people should be the cornerstones of your network.
Super-connectors exist in every niche: restaurateurs, lobbyists, headhunters, politicians, fund-raisers, journalists, authors, bloggers and gurus. The more super-connectors you know in each field, the stronger your network will be.
So: figure out who these super-connectors are, befriend them and opportunities will arise.
- Expand your circle
“The most efficient way to enlarge and tap the full potential of your circle of friends is, quite simply, to connect your circle with someone else’s.”
- Master the art of small talk
Small-talk is something most introverts –including me- don’t really like. However, mastering small-talk is a critical skill of each successful networker.
And, more importantly, it is a skill that can be LEARNED.
In small talk, Keith Ferrazzi emphasized the value of a first good impression: leaving a mark. Differentiation is the name of the game. How? Be your genuine self, show vulnerability and smile. The more you open up, the higher the chance deeper and more meaningful relations can be built.
Thirdly, you must learn how to turn connections into compatriots.
Once you’ve learnt to build connections, it’s time to create strong relationships, or as Keith argues: “compatriots”.
Keith believes that helping your connections with health, wealth and/or children related issues build the strongest relationships. As Keith says: “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 loyaly.”
Creating true compatriots comes down to what Keith calls “social arbitrage”. This means continuously being on the look-out for how you can help your connections solve their problems. So, when someone mentions a problem, try to think of how your knowledge or network of friends and associates can help solve that specific problem.
Another concept in the book is calling “pinging”. This means constantly contacting people in your network. This is critical to avoid your network to wither or die. Keith suggests dividing all your contacts to the degree of their importance and value in achieving your goals. The most important ones obviously need more “pings” than less important ones. For the most important contacts, Keith suggests going for the “value-add ping”: this can be an email, a text or phone call with value: the latest trends, an interesting article or blogpost, etc.
Lastly, Keith talks about the value of dinner parties. Food is a great way to create lasting (business) relationships. But who do you invite? Well, he suggests inviting a mix of people: an anchor tenant (this is a person who had a positive influence on your friend’s lives and can have the same effect on yours); some professional folks you want to do business with, some contacts you inspire to do business with and some ‘attractors’ – i.e. people who bring about a great energy in a group environment. Keith suggests inviting between 6 to 10 guests.
All these activities will help you turn your connections into real friends. And remember: people like to do business with people they like.
Keith Ferrazzi futher talks about connecting in the Digital Age, from how you can use social media to your advantage, brand yourself by putting out authentic content and engineering serendipity.
Anyway, the message of this book is simple: get out there. Reach out to people and realize that your relationships will form the foundation of your success. For me, this book is the Bible of modern networking. A highly-recommended read.