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

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Overview

Do you want to get ahead in life?

Climb the ladder to personal success?

The secret, master networker Keith Ferrazzi claims, is in reaching out to other people. As Ferrazzi discovered early in life, what distinguishes highly successful people from everyone else is the way they use the power of relationships—so that everyone wins.

In Never Eat Alone, Ferrazzi lays out the specific steps—and inner mindset—he uses...

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Overview

Do you want to get ahead in life?

Climb the ladder to personal success?

The secret, master networker Keith Ferrazzi claims, is in reaching out to other people. As Ferrazzi discovered early in life, what distinguishes highly successful people from everyone else is the way they use the power of relationships—so that everyone wins.

In Never Eat Alone, Ferrazzi lays out the specific steps—and inner mindset—he uses to reach out to connect with the thousands of colleagues, friends, and associates on his Rolodex, people he has helped and who have helped him.

The son of a small-town steelworker and a cleaning lady, Ferrazzi first used his remarkable ability to connect with others to pave the way to a scholarship at Yale, a Harvard MBA, and several top executive posts. Not yet out of his thirties, he developed a network of relationships that stretched from Washington’s corridors of power to Hollywood’s A-list, leading to him being named one of Crain’s 40 Under 40 and selected as a Global Leader for Tomorrow by the Davos World Economic Forum.

Ferrazzi's form of connecting to the world around him is based on generosity, helping friends connect with other friends. Ferrazzi distinguishes genuine relationship-building from the crude, desperate glad-handling usually associated with “networking.” He then distills his system of reaching out to people into practical, proven principles. Among them:

Don’t keep score: It’s never simply about getting what you want. It’s about getting what you want and making sure that the people who are important to you get what they want, too.

“Ping” constantly: The Ins and Outs of reaching out to those in your circle of contacts all the time—not just when you need something.

Never eat alone: The dynamics of status are the same whether you’re working at a corporation or attending a society event— “invisibility” is a fate worse than failure.

In the course of the book, Ferrazzi outlines the timeless strategies shared by the world’s most connected individuals, from Katherine Graham to Bill Clinton, Vernon Jordan to the Dalai Lama.

Chock full of specific advice on handling rejection, getting past gatekeepers, becoming a “conference commando,” and more, Never Eat Alone is destined to take its place alongside How to Win Friends and Influence People as an inspirational classic.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Networking: The term conjures up pushy executives whose goal is getting invited to "connected" social events to shmooze with VIPs and hand out business cards. So we found this book's take on networking frankly refreshing: Help others, with the understanding that they, in turn, will help you. Eschewing naked self-interest, Keith Ferrazzi bases his proven networking tips on sensible acts of kindness, camaraderie, and generosity.
From the Publisher
Advance Praise for Never Eat Alone

"Your network is your net worth.  This book shows you how to add to your personal bottom line with better networking and bigger relationships.  What a solid but easy read!  Keith's personality shines through like the great (and hip) teacher you never got in college or business school. Buy this book for yourself, and tomorrow go out and buy one for your kid brother!"
—Tim Sanders, author of Love Is the Killer App: How to Win Business and
Influence Friends
and leadership coach at Yahoo!
 
"Everyone in business knows relationships and having a network of contacts is important. Finally we have a real-world guide to how to create your own high-powered network tailored to your career goals and personal style."
—Jon Miller, CEO, AOL
 
“I’ve seen Keith Ferrazzi in action and he is a master at building relationships and networking to further the interests of an enterprise.  He’s sharing his playbook for those who want learn the secrets of this important executive art.”
—Dr. Klaus Kleinfeld, CEO-designate, Siemens AG
 
“A business book that reads like a story—filled with personal triumphs and examples that leave no doubt to the reader that success in anything is built on meaningful relationships.”
—James H. Quigley, CEO, Deloitte & Touche USA LLP
 
"Keith has long been a leading marketing innovator. His way with people truly makes him a star. In Never Eat Alone, he has taken his gift and created specific steps that are easily followed, to achieve great success."
—Robert Kotick, Chairman and CEO, Activision
 
“Keith’s insights on how to turn a conference, a meeting, or a casual contact into an extraordinary opportunity for mutual success make invaluable reading for people in all stages of their professional and personal lives.  I strongly recommend it."
—Jeffrey E. Garten, Dean, Yale School of Management

Publishers Weekly
The youngest partner in Deloitte Consulting's history and founder of the consulting company Ferrazzi Greenlight, the author quickly aims in this useful volume to distinguish his networking techniques from generic handshakes and business cards tossed like confetti. At conferences, Ferrazzi practices what he calls the "deep bump"-a "fast and meaningful" slice of intimacy that reveals his uniqueness to interlocutors and quickly forges the kind of emotional connection through which trust, and lots of business, can soon follow. That bump distinguishes this book from so many others that stress networking; writing with Fortune Small Business editor Raz, Ferrazzi creates a real relationship with readers. Ferrazzi may overstate his case somewhat when he says, "People who instinctively establish a strong network of relationships have always created great businesses," but his clear and well-articulated steps for getting access, getting close and staying close make for a substantial leg up. Each of 31 short chapters highlights a specific technique or concept, from "Warming the Cold Call" and "Managing the Gatekeeper" to following up, making small talk, "pinging" (or sending "quick, casual" greetings) and defining oneself to the point where one's missives become "the e-mail you always read because of who it's from." In addition to variations on the theme of hard work, Ferrazzi offers counterintuitive perspectives that ring true: "vulnerability... is one of the most underappreciated assets in business today"; "too many people confuse secrecy with importance." No one will confuse this book with its competitors. (On sale Feb. 22) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Soundview Executive Book Summaries

In Never Eat Alone, marketing and sales consultant Keith Ferrazzi lays out the specific steps, and inner mind-set, that he uses to connect with thousands of colleagues, friends and associates.

The secret to accomplishing personal career objectives, Ferrazzi tells us, can be found in reaching out to other people. What distinguishes highly successful people from everyone else is the way they use the power of relationships so that everyone wins.

Ferrazzi’s advice is based on generosity and helping friends connect to other friends and he offers specific tips on handling rejection, getting past the gatekeepers, becoming a "conference commando," and building and broadcasting your personal brand.

Reaching out to people is a way to make a difference in their lives as well as a way to explore, learn and enrich your own, Ferrazzi explains. Building a web of relationships isn’t the only thing you need to be successful. But building a career, and a life, with the help and support of friends, family and associates has many virtues.

The Mind-Set
Knowing what you want will inform you how to build relationships to achieve your goals. The author makes two recommendations:

  1. Put your goals on paper. Write down what you want to achieve in 10 years, three years, one year, and 60 days to work backward from great visions to the specific steps you must start taking immediately to get there.
  2. Think about who can help you achieve those goals. Write both the names of people and types of people you need to know for your success. Now, there are two questions you ask and answer for each of your target contacts: How can you reach them? And what can you offer them, or how can you contribute to their success, too?


The Skill Set
Ferrazzi outlines the skill set that is needed to build relationships:

  • Do your homework. Before you meet someone new, get information about that person. The more knowledge you have, the easier it will be to connect, bond and impress.
  • Take names. Maintain an electronic record of all the people you know and add to it whenever you meet new people or whenever you learn about people you want to meet.
  • Warm up the cold call. Think of meeting new people as a challenge and an opportunity. Find a mutual friend to introduce you. Show you know their problems and that you have solutions. Talk a little and say a lot. Offer a compromise. Ask for more than you want at first, so you can later settle for something that’s still desirable.
  • Manage the gatekeeper artfully. Make the gatekeepers your allies.
  • Never eat alone. Invisibility is far worse than failure.
  • Share your passions. Get involved in activities you enjoy and causes you believe in, and invite others to join you.
  • Follow up or fail. Give yourself 12-24 hours to follow up. Focus on what you might be able to do for them.
  • Be a Conference Commando. Know your targets ahead of time, strike early, work the breaks, skip the small talk as quickly as possible, and remember that you’re there to meet the attendees, not the speakers.
  • Connect with connectors. Super-connectors such as restaurateurs, headhunters, politicians and journalists should be the cornerstones of any flourishing network.
  • Expand your circle. A great method for expanding your circle is sharing networks with a friend.
  • The Art of Small Talk. We all have what it takes to charm everyone around us. But having it and knowing how to work it- that’s the difference between going though life in the shadows and commanding center stage. Charm is simply a matter of being yourself. Your uniqueness is your power.


Ferrazzi tells us there’s never been a better time to reach out and connect than right now. The more everyone becomes connected to everyone else, the quicker and smoother our ascent toward our goals will be. Creativity begets more creativity, money begets more money, knowledge begets more knowledge, and success begets even more success.

Ferrazzi concludes, "Just remember: You can’t get there alone. We’re all in this together." Copyright © 2006 Soundview Executive Book Summaries


—Soundview Summary
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385512053
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/22/2005
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

KEITH FERRAZZI is founder and CEO of the training and consulting company Ferrazzi Greenlight and a contributor to Inc., the Wall Street Journal, and Harvard Business Review. Earlier in his career, he was CMO of Deloitte Consulting and at Starwood Hotels and Resorts, and CEO of YaYa Media. He lives in Los Angeles.

TAHL RAZ is an editor at Fortune Small Business. He’s written for Inc. magazine, the Jerusalem Post, the San Francisco Chronicle, and GQ. Raz lives in New York City.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One
Becoming a Member of the Club

Relationships are all there is. Everything in the universe only exists because it is in relationship to everything else. Nothing exists in isolation. We have to stop pretending we are individuals that can go it alone.

–Margaret Wheatley

How on earth did I get in here?” I kept asking myself in those early days as an overwhelmed first-year student at Harvard Business School.

There wasn’t a single accounting or finance class in my background. Looking around me, I saw ruthlessly focused young men and women who had undergraduate degrees in business. They’d gone on to crunch numbers or analyze spreadsheets in the finest firms on Wall Street. Most were from wealthy families and had pedigrees and legacies and Roman numerals in their names. Sure, I was intimidated.

How was a guy like me from a working-class family, with a liberal arts degree and a couple years at a traditional manufacturing company, going to compete with purebreds from McKinsey and Goldman Sachs who, from my perspective, seemed as if they’d been computing business data in their cribs?

It was a defining moment in my career, and in my life.

I was a country boy from southwestern Pennsylvania, raised in a small, hardworking steel and coal town outside of Latrobe called Youngstown. Our region was so rural you couldn’t see another house from the porch of our modest home. My father worked in the local steel mill; on weekends he’d do construction. My mother cleaned the homes of the doctors and lawyers in a nearby town. My brother escaped small-town life by way of the army; my sister got married in high school and moved out when I
was a toddler.

At HBS, all the insecurities of my youth came rushing back. You see, although we didn’t have much money, my dad and mom were set on giving me the kind of opportunities my brother and sister (from my mom’s previous marriage) never got. My parents pushed me and sacrificed everything to get me the kind of education that only the well-to-do kids in our town could afford. The memories rushed back to those days when my mother would pick me up in our beat-up blue Nova at the bus stop of the private elementary school I attended, while the other children ducked into limos and BMWs. I was teased mercilessly about our car and my polyester clothes and fake Docksiders–reminded daily of my station in life.

The experience was a godsend in many ways, toughening my resolve and fueling my drive to succeed. It made clear to me there was a hard line between the haves and the have-nots. It made me angry to be poor. I felt excluded from what I saw as the old boys’ network. On the other hand, all those feelings pushed me to work harder than everyone around me.

Hard work, I reassured myself, was one of the ways I’d beaten the odds and gotten into Harvard Business School. But there was something else that separated me from the rest of my class and gave me an advantage. I seemed to have learned something long before I arrived in Cambridge that it seemed many of my peers had not.

As a kid, I caddied at the local country club for the homeowners and their children living in the wealthy town next to mine. It made me think often and hard about those who succeed and those who don’t. I made an observation in those days that would alter the way I viewed the world.

During those long stretches on the links, as I carried their bags, I watched how 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 the people I caddied for had in their bags. Poverty, I realized, wasn’t only a lack of financial resources; it was isolation from the kind of people that could help you make more of yourself.

I came to believe that in some very specific ways life, like golf, is a game, and that the people who know the rules, and know them well, play it best and succeed. And the rule in life that has unprecedented power is that the individual who knows the right people, for the right reasons, and utilizes the power of these relationships, can become a member of the “club,” whether he started out as a caddie or not.

This realization came with some empowering implications. To achieve your goals in life, I realized, it matters less how smart you are, how much innate talent you’re born with, or even, most eye-opening to me, where you came from and how much you started out with. Sure all these are important, but they mean little if you don’t understand one thing: You can’t get there alone. In fact, you can’t get very far at all.

Fortunately, I was hungry to make something of myself (and, frankly, even more terrified that I’d amount to nothing). Otherwise, perhaps I would have just stood by and watched like my friends in the caddy yard.

I first began to learn about the incredible power of relationships from Mrs. Poland. Carol Poland was married to the owner of the big lumberyard in our town, and her son, Brett, who was my age, was my friend. They went to our church. At the time, I probably wanted to be Brett (great athlete, rich, all the girls falling over him).

At the club, I was Mrs. Poland’s caddie. I was the only one who cared enough, ironically, to hide her cigarettes. I busted my behind to help her win every tournament. I’d walk the course the morning before to see where the tough pin placements were. I’d test the speed of the greens. Mrs. Poland started racking up wins left and right. Every ladies day, I did such a great job that she would brag about me to her friends. Soon, others requested me.

I’d caddie thirty-six holes a day if I could get the work, and I made sure I treated the club caddie-master as if he were a king. My first year, I won the annual caddie award, which gave me the chance to caddie for Arnold Palmer when he came to play on his hometown course. Arnie started out as a caddie himself at the Latrobe Country Club and went on to own the club as an adult. I looked up to him as a role model. He was living proof that success in golf, and in life, had nothing to do with class. It was about access (yes, and talent, at least in his case). Some gained access through birth or money. Some were fantastic at what they did, like Arnold Palmer. My edge, I knew, was my initiative and drive. Arnie was inspirational proof that your past need not be prologue to your future.

For years I was a de facto member of the Poland family, splitting holidays with them and hanging out at their house nearly every day. Brett and I were inseparable, and I loved his family like my own. Mrs. Poland made sure I got to know everyone in the club that could help me, and if she saw me slacking, I’d hear it from her. I helped her on the golf course, and she, in appreciation of my efforts and the care I bestowed upon her, helped me in life. She provided me with a simple but profound lesson about the power of generosity. When you help others, they often help you. Reciprocity is the gussied-up word people use later in life to describe this ageless principle. I just knew the word as “care.” We cared for each other, so we went out of our way to do nice things.

Because of those days, and specifically that lesson, I came to realize that first semester at business school that Harvard’s hypercompetitive, individualistic students had it all wrong. Success in any field, but especially in business, is about working with people, not against them. No tabulation of dollars and cents can account for one immutable fact: Business is a human enterprise, driven and determined by people.

It wasn’t too far into my second semester before I started jokingly reassuring myself, “How on earth did all these other people get in here?”

What many of my fellow students lacked, I discovered, were the skills and strategies that are associated with fostering and building relationships. In America, and especially in business, we’re brought up to cherish John Wayne individualism. People who consciously court others to become involved in their lives are seen as schmoozers, brown-nosers, smarmy sycophants.

Over the years, I learned that the outrageous number of misperceptions clouding those who are active relationship-builders is equaled only by the misperceptions of how relationship-building is done properly. What I saw on the golf course–friends helping friends and families helping families they cared about–had nothing to do with manipulation or quid pro quo. Rarely was there any running tally of who did what for whom, or strategies concocted in which you give just so you could get.

Over time, I came to see reaching out to people as a way to make a difference in people’s lives as well as a way to explore and learn and enrich my own; it became the conscious construction of my life’s path. Once I saw my networking efforts in this light, I gave myself permission to practice it with abandon in every part of my professional and personal life. I didn’t think of it as cold and impersonal, the way I thought of “networking.” I was, instead, 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. Like business itself, being a connector is not about managing transactions, but about managing relationships.

People who instinctively establish a strong network of relationships have always created great businesses. If you strip business down to its basics, it’s still about people selling things to other people. That idea can get lost in the tremendous hubbub the business world perpetually stirs up around everything from brands and technology to design and price considerations in an endless search for the ultimate competitive advantage. But ask any accomplished CEO or entrepreneur or professional how they achieved their success, and I guarantee you’ll hear very little business jargon. What you will mostly hear about are the people who helped pave their way, if they are being honest and not too caught up in their own success.

After two decades of successfully applying the power of relationships in my own life and career, I’ve come to believe that connecting is one of the most important business–and life–skill sets you’ll ever learn. Why? Because, flat out, people do business with people they know and like. Careers–in every imaginable field–work the same way. Even our overall well-being and sense of happiness, as a library’s worth of research has shown, is dictated in large part by the support and guidance and love we get from the community we build for ourselves.

It took me a while to figure out exactly how to go about connecting with others. But I knew for certain that whether I wanted to become president of the United States or the president of a local PTA, there were a lot of other people whose help I would need along the way.

Self-Help: A Misnomer

How do you turn an aspiring contact into a friend? How can you get other people to become emotionally invested in your advancement? Why are there some lucky schmos who always leave business conferences with months’ worth of lunch dates and a dozen potential new associates, while others leave with only indigestion? Where are the places you go to meet the kind of people who could most impact your life?

From my earliest days growing up in Latrobe, I found myself absorbing wisdom and advice from every source imaginable–friends, books, neighbors, teachers, family. My thirst to reach out was almost unquenchable. But in business, I found nothing came close to the impact of mentors. At every stage in my career, I sought out the most successful people around me and asked for their help and guidance.

I first learned the value of mentors from a local lawyer named George Love. He and the town’s stockbroker, Walt Saling, took me under their wings. I was riveted by their stories of professional life and their nuggets of street-smart wisdom. My ambitions were sown in the fertile soil of George and Walt’s rambling business escapades, and ever since, I’ve been on the lookout for others who could teach or inspire me. Later in life, as I rubbed shoulders with business leaders, store owners, politicians, and movers and shakers of all stripes, I started to gain a sense of how our country’s most successful people reach out to others, and how they invite those people’s help in accomplishing their goals.

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. And I came to believe that there was a litany of tough-minded principles that made this softhearted philosophy possible.

These principles would ultimately help me achieve things I didn’t think I was capable of. They would lead me to opportunities otherwise hidden to a person of my upbringing, and they’d come to my aid when I failed, as we all do on occasion. That aid was never in more dire need than during my first job out of business school at Deloitte & Touche Consulting.

By conventional standards, I was an awful entry-level consultant. Put me in front of a spreadsheet and my eyes glaze over, which is what happened when I found myself on my first project, huddled in a cramped windowless room in the middle of suburbia, files stretching from floor to ceiling, poring over a sea of data with a few other first-year consultants. I tried; I really did. But I just couldn’t. I was convinced boredom that bad was lethal.

I was clearly well on my way to getting fired or quitting.

Luckily, I had already applied some of the very rules of networking that I was still in the process of learning. In my spare time, when I wasn’t painfully attempting to analyze some data-ridden worksheet, I reached out to ex-classmates, professors, old bosses, and anyone who might stand to benefit from a relationship with Deloitte. I spent my weekends giving speeches at small conferences around the country on a variety of subjects I had learned at Harvard mostly under the tutelage of Len Schlessinger (to whom I owe my speaking style today). All this in an attempt to drum up both business and buzz for my new company. I had mentors throughout the organization, including the CEO, Pat Loconto.

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First Chapter

Becoming a Member of the Club

Relationships are all there is. Everything in the universe only exists because it is in relationship to everything else. Nothing exists in isolation. We have to stop pretending we are individuals that can go it alone.
-Margaret Wheatley
How on earth did I get in here?" I kept asking myself in those early days as an overwhelmed first-year student at Harvard Business School.
There wasn't a single accounting or finance class in my background. Looking around me, I saw ruthlessly focused young men and women who had undergraduate degrees in business. They'd gone on to crunch numbers or analyze spreadsheets in the finest firms on Wall Street. Most were from wealthy families and had pedigrees and legacies and Roman numerals in their names. Sure, I was intimidated.
How was a guy like me from a working-class family, with a liberal arts degree and a couple years at a traditional manufacturing company, going to compete with purebreds from McKinsey and Goldman Sachs who, from my perspective, seemed as if they'd been computing business data in their cribs?
It was a defining moment in my career, and in my life.
I was a country boy from southwestern Pennsylvania, raised
in a small, hardworking steel and coal town outside of Latrobe called Youngstown. Our region was so rural you couldn't see another house from the porch of our modest home. My father worked in the local steel mill; on weekends he'd do construction. My mother cleaned the homes of the doctors and lawyers in a nearby town. My brother escaped small-town life by way of the army; my sister got married in high school and moved out when I was a toddler.
At HBS, all the insecurities of my youth came rushing back. You see, although we didn't have much money, my dad and mom were set on giving me the kind of opportunities my brother and sister (from my mom's previous marriage) never got. My parents pushed me and sacrificed everything to get me the kind of education that only the well-to-do kids in our town could afford. The memories rushed back to those days when my mother would pick me up in our beat-up blue Nova at the bus stop of the private elementary school I attended, while the other children ducked into limos and BMWs. I was teased mercilessly about our car and my polyester clothes and fake Docksiders-reminded daily of my station in life.
The experience was a godsend in many ways, toughening my resolve and fueling my drive to succeed. It made clear to me there was a hard line between the haves and the have-nots. It made me angry to be poor. I felt excluded from what I saw as the old boys' network. On the other hand, all those feelings pushed me to work harder than everyone around me.
Hard work, I reassured myself, was one of the ways I'd beaten the odds and gotten into Harvard Business School. But there was something else that separated me from the rest of my class and gave me an advantage. I seemed to have learned something long before I arrived in Cambridge that it seemed many of my peers had not.
As a kid, I caddied at the local country club for the homeowners and their children living in the wealthy town next to mine. It made me think often and hard about those who succeed and those who don't. I made an observation in those days that would alter the way I viewed the world.
During those long stretches on the links, as I carried their bags, I watched how 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 the people I caddied for had in their bags. Poverty, I realized, wasn't only a lack of financial resources; it was isolation from the kind of people that could help you make more of yourself.
I came to believe that in some very specific ways life, like golf, is a game, and that the people who know the rules, and know them well, play it best and succeed. And the rule in life that has unprecedented power is that the individual who knows the right people, for the right reasons, and utilizes the power of these relationships, can become a member of the "club," whether he started out as a caddie or not.
This realization came with some empowering implications. To achieve your goals in life, I realized, it matters less how smart you are, how much innate talent you're born with, or even, most eye-opening to me, where you came from and how much you started out with. Sure all these are important, but they mean little if you don't understand one thing: You can't get there alone. In fact, you can't get very far at all.
Fortunately, I was hungry to make something of myself (and, frankly, even more terrified that I'd amount to nothing). Otherwise, perhaps I would have just stood by and watched like my friends in the caddy yard.
I first began to learn about the incredible power of relationships from Mrs. Poland. Carol Poland was married to the owner
of the big lumberyard in our town, and her son, Brett, who was my age, was my friend. They went to our church. At the time, I probably wanted to be Brett (great athlete, rich, all the girls falling over him).
At the club, I was Mrs. Poland's caddie. I was the only one who cared enough, ironically, to hide her cigarettes. I busted my behind to help her win every tournament. I'd walk the course the morning before to see where the tough pin placements were. I'd test the speed of the greens. Mrs. Poland started racking up wins left and right. Every ladies day, I did such a great job that she would brag about me to her friends. Soon, others requested me.
I'd caddie thirty-six holes a day if I could get the work, and I made sure I treated the club caddie-master as if he were a king. My first year, I won the annual caddie award, which gave me the chance to caddie for Arnold Palmer when he came to play on his hometown course. Arnie started out as a caddie himself at the Latrobe Country Club and went on to own the club as an adult. I looked up to him as a role model. He was living proof that success in golf, and in life, had nothing to do with class. It was about access (yes, and talent, at least in his case). Some gained access through birth or money. Some were fantastic at what they did, like Arnold Palmer. My edge, I knew, was my initiative and drive. Arnie was inspirational proof that your past need not be prologue to your future.
For years I was a de facto member of the Poland family, splitting holidays with them and hanging out at their house nearly every day. Brett and I were inseparable, and I loved his family like my own. Mrs. Poland made sure I got to know everyone in the club that could help me, and if she saw me slacking, I'd hear it from her. I helped her on the golf course, and she, in appreciation of my efforts and the care I bestowed upon her, helped me in life. She provided me with a simple but profound lesson about the power of generosity. When you help others, they often help you. Reciprocity is the gussied-up word people use later in life to describe this ageless principle. I just knew the word as "care." We cared for each other, so we went out of our way to do nice things.
Because of those days, and specifically that lesson, I came to realize that first semester at business school that Harvard's hyper-competitive, individualistic students had it all wrong. Success in any field, but especially in business, is about working with people, not against them. No tabulation of dollars and cents can account for one immutable fact: Business is a human enterprise, driven and determined by people.
It wasn't too far into my second semester before I started jokingly reassuring myself, "How on earth did all these other people get in here?"
What many of my fellow students lacked, I discovered, were the skills and strategies that are associated with fostering and building relationships. In America, and especially in business, we're brought up to cherish John Wayne individualism. People who consciously court others to become involved in their lives are seen as schmoozers, brown-nosers, smarmy sycophants.
Over the years, I learned that the outrageous number of misperceptions clouding those who are active relationship-builders is equaled only by the misperceptions of how relationship-building is done properly. What I saw on the golf course-friends helping friends and families helping families they cared about-had nothing to do with manipulation or quid pro quo. Rarely was there any running tally of who did what for whom, or strategies concocted in which you give just so you could get.
Over time, I came to see reaching out to people as a way to make a difference in people's lives as well as a way to explore and learn and enrich my own; it became the conscious construction of my life's path. Once I saw my networking efforts in this light, I gave myself permission to practice it with abandon in every part of my professional and personal life. I didn't think of it as cold and impersonal, the way I thought of "networking." I was, instead, 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. Like business itself, being a connector is not about managing transactions, but about managing relationships.
People who instinctively establish a strong network of relationships have always created great businesses. If you strip business down to its basics, it's still about people selling things to other people. That idea can get lost in the tremendous hubbub the business world perpetually stirs up around everything from brands and technology to design and price considerations in an endless search for the ultimate competitive advantage. But ask any accomplished CEO or entrepreneur or professional how they achieved their success, and I guarantee you'll hear very little business jargon. What you will mostly hear about are the people who helped pave their way, if they are being honest and not too caught up in their own success.
After two decades of successfully applying the power of relationships in my own life and career, I've come to believe that connecting is one of the most important business-and life-skill sets you'll ever learn. Why? Because, flat out, people do business with people they know and like. Careers-in every imaginable field-work the same way. Even our overall well-being and sense of happiness, as a library's worth of research has shown, is dictated in large part by the support and guidance and love we get from the community we build for ourselves.
It took me a while to figure out exactly how to go about connecting with others. But I knew for certain that whether I wanted to become president of the United States or the president of a local PTA, there were a lot of other people whose help I would need along the way.

Self-Help: A Misnomer

How do you turn an aspiring contact into a friend? How can you get other people to become emotionally invested in your advancement? Why are there some lucky schmos who always leave business conferences with months' worth of lunch dates and a dozen potential new associates, while others leave with only indigestion? Where are the places you go to meet the kind of people who could most impact your life?
From my earliest days growing up in Latrobe, I found myself absorbing wisdom and advice from every source imaginable-friends, books, neighbors, teachers, family. My thirst to reach out was almost unquenchable. But in business, I found nothing came close to the impact of mentors. At every stage in my career, I sought out the most successful people around me and asked for their help and guidance.
I first learned the value of mentors from a local lawyer named George Love. He and the town's stockbroker, Walt Saling, took me under their wings. I was riveted by their stories of professional life and their nuggets of street-smart wisdom. My ambitions were sown in the fertile soil of George and Walt's rambling business escapades, and ever since, I've been on the lookout for others who could teach or inspire me. Later in life, as I rubbed shoulders with business leaders, store owners, politicians, and movers and shakers of all stripes, I started to gain a sense of how our country's most successful people reach out to others, and how they invite those people's help in accomplishing their goals.
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. And I came to believe that there was a litany of tough-minded principles that made this softhearted philosophy possible.
These principles would ultimately help me achieve things I didn't think I was capable of. They would lead me to opportunities otherwise hidden to a person of my upbringing, and they'd come to my aid when I failed, as we all do on occasion. That aid was never in more dire need than during my first job out of business school at Deloitte & Touche Consulting.
By conventional standards, I was an awful entry-level consultant. Put me in front of a spreadsheet and my eyes glaze over, which is what happened when I found myself on my first project, huddled in a cramped windowless room in the middle of suburbia, files stretching from floor to ceiling, poring over a sea of data with a few other first-year consultants. I tried; I really did. But I just couldn't. I was convinced boredom that bad was lethal.
I was clearly well on my way to getting fired or quitting.
Luckily, I had already applied some of the very rules of networking that I was still in the process of learning. In my spare time, when I wasn't painfully attempting to analyze some data-ridden worksheet, I reached out to ex-classmates, professors, old bosses, and anyone who might stand to benefit from a relationship with Deloitte. I spent my weekends giving speeches at small conferences around the country on a variety of subjects I had learned at Harvard mostly under the tutelage of Len Schlessinger (to whom I owe my speaking style today). All this in an attempt to drum up both business and buzz for my new company. I had mentors throughout the organization, including the CEO, Pat Loconto.
Still, my first annual review was devastating. I received low marks for not doing what I was asked to do with the gusto and focus that was expected of me. But my supervisors, with whom I had already developed relationships and who were aware of all my extracurricular activities, had another idea. Together, we cooked up a job description that previously did not exist at the company.
My mentors gave me a $150,000 expense account to do what I had already been doing: developing business, representing the firm with speaking engagements, and reaching out to the press and business world in ways that would strengthen Deloitte's presence in the marketplace. My supervisors' belief in me paid off. Within a year, the company's brand recognition in the line of business on which I focused (reengineering) moved from bottom of the consulting pack to one of the top of the industry, achieving a growth rate the company had never known (though, of course, it wasn't all my doing). I went on to become the company's chief marketing officer and the youngest person ever tapped for partner. And I was having a blast-the work was fun, exciting, interesting. Everything you could want in a job.
While my career was in full throttle, in some ways it all seemed like a lucky accident. In fact, for many years, I couldn't see exactly where my professional trajectory would take me-after Deloitte, a crazy quilt of top-level jobs culminating in my founding my own company. It's only today, looking in the rearview mirror, that it makes enormous sense.
From Deloitte, I became the youngest chief marketing officer in the Fortune 500 at Starwood Hotel & Resorts. Then I went on to become CEO of a Knowledge Universe (Michael Milken)-funded video game company, and now, founder of my own company, Ferrazzi Greenlight, a sales and marketing consulting and training firm to scores of the most prestigious brands, and an advisor to CEOs across the world. I zigged and zagged my way to the top. Every time I contemplated a move or needed advice, I turned to the circle of friends I had created around me.
At first I tried to draw attention away from my people skills for fear that they were somehow inferior to other more "respectable" business abilities. But as I got older, everyone from well-known CEOs and politicians to college kids and my own employees came to me asking for advice on how to do those things I had always loved doing. Crain's magazine listed me as one of the forty top business leaders under forty, and the World Economic Forum labeled me as a "Global Leader of Tomorrow." Senator Hillary Clinton asked me to use my connecting skills to raise money for her favorite nonprofit organization, Save America's Treasures. Friends and CEOs of Fortune 500 companies asked if I could help them throw more intimate dinner parties for their lead prospects and clients in key regions of the country. MBA students sent me e-mails hungry to learn the people skills their business schools weren't teaching them. Those turned into formal training courses now taught at the most prestigious MBA programs in America.
The underlying "softer" skills I used to arrive at my success, I learned, were something others could benefit from learning.
Of course, building a web of relationships isn't the only thing you need to be successful. But building a career, and a life, with the help and support of friends and family and associates has some incredible virtues.

1. It's never boring. Time-consuming, sometimes; demanding, perhaps. But dull, never. You're always learning about yourself, other people, business, and the world, and it feels great.

2. A relationship-driven career is good for the companies you work for because everyone benefits from your own growth-it's the value you bring that makes people want to connect with you. You feel satisfaction when both your peers and your organization share in your advancement.

3. Connecting-with the support, flexibility, and opportunities for self-development that come along with it-happens to make a great deal of sense in our new work world. The loyalty and security once offered by organizations can be provided by our own networks. Lifetime corporate employment is dead; we're all free agents now, managing our own careers across multiple jobs and companies. And because today's primary currency is information, a wide-reaching network is one of the surest ways to become and remain thought leaders of our respective fields.

Today, I have over 5,000 people on my Palm who will answer the phone when I call. They are there to offer expertise, jobs, help, encouragement, support, and yes, even care and love. The very successful people I know are, as a group, not especially talented, educated, or charming. But they all have a circle of trustworthy, talented, and inspirational people whom they can call upon.
All of this takes work. It involves a lot of sweat equity, just as it did for me back in the caddie yard. It means you have to think hard not only about yourself but about other people. Once you're committed to reaching out to others and asking for their help at being the best at whatever you do, you'll realize, as I have, what a powerful way of accomplishing your goals this can be. Just as important, it will lead to a much fuller, richer life, surrounded by an ever-growing, vibrant network of people you care for and who care for you.
This book outlines the secrets behind the success of so many accomplished people; they are secrets that are rarely recognized
by business schools, career counselors, or therapists. By incorporating the ideas I discuss in this book, you too can become the center of a circle of relationships, one that will help you succeed throughout life. Of course, I'm a bit of a fanatic in my efforts to connect with others. I do the things I'm going to teach you with a certain degree of, well, exuberance. But by simply reaching out to others and recognizing that no one does it alone, I believe you'll see astounding results, quickly.
Everyone has the capacity to be a connector. After all, if a country kid from Pennsylvania can make it into the "club," so can you.
See you there.

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Customer Reviews

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 71 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 9, 2012

    Gets you to start to see relationships as a tool -- pretty different but Good reading

    The book really was a little slow at the beginning but it ramped up after that. I think Keith looks at relationships in a strategic way, but in the end it teaches you that to get something you have to give something.

    In business today there seems to be always a hook or someone asking for a side deal to move business forward, which seems what his book kinda concludes.

    Good book overall, good reading to make you think.... read if you are in need to grow your business based on meeting alot of people.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 6, 2010

    Amazing!

    As a aspiring Business major I took a certain interest to this book. I thought of it as a rough guideline for future success! I highly reccommend this to both Business majors or to the person that has doubts about his/her plans in their personal life. Very insightful, chalk full of honesty and tid its for success!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 19, 2009

    Poor writing & simplistic

    I don't understand why this book is so popular. I got very little out of it. The topic can be boiled down to what sociologists call social capital, nothing new there. The author rambles and does a lot of name dropping (which means nothing to the average person). He is a very poor writer. Skip this one and read a good book on networking.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2009

    Ferrazzi shameless self-promotion

    As Ferrazzi admits several times in his book, he is a "shameless self-promoter". And sadly that is all this book is about. The examples Ferrazzi provides in chapters such as "Be Interesting" are all anecdotes from the life of another young MBA. There is extremely little research or support for the recommendations. But that is OK because there are no recommendations that you haven't already thought of doing. Perhaps the only thing you didn't already do was 'Throw FABULOUS dinner parties, like mine!'. And now that you know that, you can save your time and read something useful.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2008

    Good read for marketing/business professionals. Techies, stay away from this book

    This is a must read for people in the IT / High-tech / Marketing and sales business. The reason for my headline is because of the review from Stan. I can completely see where Stan is coming from and I agree with his assessment. For a technical person (a non-suit lets say) this book is border-lining on blasphemy. Let's just say Ayn Rand will be turning in her grave if someone had read her this book. But, lets snap back into reality. You can protest anything and everything that you consider as immoral in your mind. For someone else, they might genuinely like making connections to move ahead in business and life. Sift through what you don't agree with and look at rest of the content. I can promise you that you cannot put this book down once you start reading it. You gotta respect a guy who came from humble beginnings, got into Yale and is featured in who's who under 40. Highly recommended.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 9, 2012

    Mastr to claire

    Moves u to reult eight.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2008

    Another Installment to the Schmoozer's Bible

    In this publication Keith Ferrazzi decided to add to the growing body of 'the Schmoozer's Bible'. Ferrazzi outright rejects the terms which normally describes the type of behavior he champions. These terms are 'schmoozer', 'apple-polisher', 'sycophant', etc. Instead, Ferrazzi is more comfortable referring to himself -- and others of his ilk -- as 'connector'. This, unfortunately, does not change the nature of what he does and, most important, how he does it. The book teaches that, if put in a nutshell, all moral scruples are suppressed, there will be nothing standing between him/her and his/her goal. Ferrazzi claims that he has perfected the art of 'connecting to people', whereas the truth is that what he has really perfected is the art of manipulation and pretense. There are hysterical parts of this book where Ferrazzi encourages the reader to 'develop' certain interests, focusing in on the most popular interests of the rich of this world, such as, for example, golf, which Ferrazzi himself does not particularly enjoy but is afraid to speak strongly against it in the same measure as he is afraid of speaking strongly against anyone or anything, hedging his bets and thinking that he might have to ask this person for a favor some time in the future which is why irating him/her in this publication would be imprudent. Perhaps the most laughable statement made by Ferrazzi is the one he makes towards the very end of this book where he talks about how his strategy of 'connecting to people' can change the world. Keith is either delusional or just can't snap out of the overall pretense of this book, but the way he does things achieves the exact opposite -- it creates a nation of adaptable and spineless people who even arrange their tastes in music to the liking of those they 'want to meet'. Ferrazzi, according to his own admission, has grown into the lifestyle his schmoozer philosophy affords and, apparently, has done very well for himself applying it. I, personally, wouldn't want someone like him as a friend and I wouldn't want his type around in professional settings either. It is not all bad, though. There are certain parts of the book that -- although do not contain new information and a new way of presentation of old information -- are instructive as they remind us of certain aspects of social etiquette. Thank-you letters is one such aspect. Remembering people's birthdays is another. These are very simple and widely known forms of social etiquette which sometimes, unfortunately, escape people's attention. There are a few other things that can be picked up on the way. Considering the cost of time that takes to read this book and the benefit one can attain, I recommend you get it on audio and listen to it in your car where there is little else to do. Do not treat this book as a revelation, though. There is no hidden message and Ferrazzi does not know much more about 'connectivity' than most of you unless of course you accept his version of 'persistence'. The greatness value of this book, though, is how entertaining it is and how fun it is to watch Ferrazzi 'connect to people' in what most would consider as humiliating ways.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 5, 2006

    Quality Material

    This book came uploaded as an eBook file when I purchased my PDA. What is in this book is common sense for the most part. What makes it so great at least in my perspective is that it is the basics of building strong relationships. There are countless other books that cover the same subject but have more complicated explainations and unneccessary methods. Books that confuse the reader rather than lay out information so that it can be easily understood and applied. This is a great book for professionals or anyone looking to improve themselves.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2006

    not from a friend of the author...

    This is barely worth the read. Maybe a couple of good hints, maybe. But realistically, one can not but help think while reading this book is there anyone on earth more full of himself than Mr. Ferrazzi? Every action in the life of the author is predicated upon an ulterior motive. No wonder there is such mistrust and disrespect for sales people and honest businessmen.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2014

    In ¿Never Eat Alone,¿ Ferrazi sets out to explain how building a

    In “Never Eat Alone,” Ferrazi sets out to explain how building and maintaining relationships leads to success. Ferrazi’s intended audience ranges from a person trying to become president of the local PTA group to the CEO of a fortune 500 company. Ferrazi’s steps to success are adaptable to any goal.
    Keith Ferrazi is the founder and CEO of Ferrazi Green Light Corporation, a research institution and consulting firm. Ferrazi has climbed his way to the top of the business world. One of the biggest reasons why, besides his passion and motivation, is his remarkable skill to connect with others. The son of a steel worker and a cleaning lady, Ferrazi was granted a top of the line education from the generosity of his father’s boss. After receiving a scholarship to Yale and a Harvard MBA, he went on to take over several different executive positions. 
    Ferrazi, throughout the entire book, emphasizes how important generosity is. The main difference between people just networking and people building genuine relationships is generosity. Ferrazi distinguishes the differences between “a networking jerk” and a good networker. He explains that a networking jerk is “a schmooze artist, eyes darting at every event in a constant search for a bigger fish to fry” (page 56). 
    Over the course of this book, he describes his system of reaching out to people in practical principles. These practical principles have helped him develop a growing network of over 5,000 relationships. One of the most important ways to network is maintaining a relationship. Ferrazi calls the act “pinging.” His term means to keep in touch in creative ways. He writes that, “you have to feed the fire of your network or it will wither or die.” Reaching out to those who are in your circle should happen all the time, not just when you are in need of a favor. 
    Another main point that he focuses on is not keeping score. Ferrazi strongly believes in the mindset of not thinking about what people can do for you, but what you can do for others. Real networking is not greed, but generosity. Ferrazi gives a promising point that people can climb to the top by asking others “how can I help you?” This theory is strongly supported by the fact that he has been named one of Crain’s 40 under 40 and was selected as a global leader for tomorrow by the Davos World Economic. Also throughout the book, profiles of famous people that have made the “connectors hall of fame” exemplify some of the strategies that successful individuals have. These profiles range from Eleanor Roosevelt to the Dalai Lama. Ferrazi is extensive in supporting his own strategies through others’ success stories. 
    Ferrazi’s outlook on networking and business culture is refreshing. All of the networking tips he gives are acts of kindness that should be applied to all forms of interaction in every setting. The keys of success Ferrazi gives will not only help in the workplace but will be beneficial in life. The mindset of Keith Ferrazi is one that will change your view on networking but more importantly, will change your opinion on success.  Every reader can become “a member of the club” after reading “Never Eat Alone.”

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  • Posted February 23, 2013

    Odd advice that doesn't work in all fields or for all people

    The author works in a context where his advice would work, but it won't work in all fields. He's a marketing whiz, but in the book he does not mention important parts of his identity that differ from that of most of the rest of us, and so his advice is kind of out there for the rest of us who don't share that identity.

    Interview people while working out? Throw lavish dinner parties yourself? Sing Happy Birthday to people by phone? Those tips may work for someone with his identity and profession, but they wouldn't work in mine.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2008

    Great book full of great tips & techniques...

    ...for effective relationship building. Definitely a must-read and a keeper for your bookshelf.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2007

    A refreshing, focused perspective on networking

    This book fully revs you up to make powerful, positive connections on purpuse. I literally couldn't put the book down. As a marketing consultant, I always recommend this book to my clients as we develop a 'customized' networking plan for them. It's a refreshing look at making connections and helping others in the process. It's more than showing up in a room with business cards...

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2006

    Outstanding Insight

    This book is a must have for htose within the client relationship business. The minute I began reading this book I started to implement the techniques mention and they really work. Out of my 25 years experience in the professional accounting field I have not found a better book that has allowed me to increase the true relationships that I have.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2006

    Found this book while browsing the bookstore, and wow! What an amazing find.

    I saw this book hidden among the other books in the business section. The title spoke to me, so I picked it up--along with a few others--and sat down in a chair to peruse them. It wasn't long before Never Eat Alone had me flipping the pages in amazement. This book speaks volumes to everyone who knows what it takes to accomplish lofty goals in life: other people. Without other people, you'll be constantly trapped inside your own limitations. The most beautiful thing I've discovered--and Keith obviously has as well--is that networking done right is a beautiful thing. It's beautiful because you accomplish the most by helping *others*, not by trying to use others or by hoarding your resources. By helping others, you make the sort of connections which will help you in return. You don't even have to try. Never Eat Alone is packed full of concepts like this well explained, fully supported, and easy to read. If you have lofty goals in life, whatever they may be, this is the book for you.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2006

    Masterful Networking Tactics

    Author Keith Ferrazzi is a master networker who claims that his Palm Pilot holds the names of 5,000 people who will take his phone calls. That¿s a powerful claim. Starting as a self-made man of humble origins, Ferrazzi developed his social network by helping people and by developing and mastering the techniques for networking. Here, he shares his methods. His light, engaging and entertaining story will motivate those who want to enhance their social and business friendships. The author advocates generosity as the key to success. That¿s a radical business concept, but he claims it works. It¿s certainly worth a try. We recommend this book to people who want to be more social, make friends and expand their business connections. It should also prove invaluable for those who are sick of sitting at home on Saturday nights.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 15, 2005

    A Read a Lot . . . and This is a Great Book!

    I've been a successful tax consulting professional for a long time, and this is one book that provides unique, yet practical ways of improving your networking and marketing impact. Further, the stories and writing style were entertaining. I plan on purchasing many copies of this book as gifts for my daughters, their boyfriends and other young people that I'd love to see excel in life!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 27, 2005

    Great Concept w/ Great Information!

    Finally here's a book that does more than just tell us it's important to network. Keith does networking wonderfully without looking too obnoxious while doing it. This book is a must read for everyone, whatever point you are at in your career.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2005

    Be Genuine, Be Generous

    Ferrazzi breaks down the old boys network and replaces it with a winning strategy to gain a relationship-driven life. Clear, concise and genuine, Ferrazzi and Tahl provide both method and means to build a quality network of true friends. Never Eat Alone, is a must read for those seeking a quality personal and professional life.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2005

    Career advice with impact

    Great read. On top of the interesting anecdotes that tie it all together, this is one of those books that is just loaded with practical advice to advance yourself personally and professionally. I sometimes doubt the effectiveness of business best practices, 'how to' or self-help type books, but I can tell you the networking tactics and truths revealed in this book have already helped me in significant ways in my own career. A must read for every working professional.

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