Friday, July 12, 2013

Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time

by Keith Ferrazzi and Tahl Raz

The author, a marketing and sales CEO, lays out advice for getting ahead in this new, flatter, faster economy: foster and maintain connections with people. A cynic might, of course, take this as telling prospective salesmen or corporate ladder climbers to flatter their superiors and feign interest in activities that will get them closer to their goals, while hoarding the contacts they gather until such time as these might become useful to them personally. However, Ferrazzi, who worked his way up into the corporate world very quickly from a working-class origin, seems more or less genuinely zealous about promoting genuine human contact, and not just for the utile benefits it might bring. He counsels readers to join associations they have real interest in, to listen for others’ problems for which they might offer solutions, to mentor beginners and up-and-comers, to throw friendly dinner parties or otherwise organize social activities, and so on.

It is true that some of Ferrazzi’s ideas – such as researching others’ interests before you meet them and then “accidentally” bringing up shared connections, or his notion of the “deep bump,” mastering the art of meaningful small talk – are redolent of disingenuousness. And there’s more than a hint of the self-serving in his message of constant self-promotion. However, on the whole, he offers genial well-intentioned advice, useful not just for the young salesman but, I think, for anyone who works with others. Bring like-minded people together. Listen to others. Try to be helpful to those whom you can help. Be vulnerable and open when you talk. Don’t be afraid to ask for things. Favors and contacts aren’t equity to be hoarded, but an infinite resource that expands with every use. It’s hardly the typical sales advice, and Ferrazzi tells it with a warm, at times self-deprecating style. 

three stars

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