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

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

by Keith Ferrazzi, Tahl Raz


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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780385512053
Publisher: Crown Religion/Business/Forum
Publication date: 02/22/2005
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 1,240,540
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 9.50(h) x 0.90(d)

About 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.

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.

What People are Saying About This

Klaus Kleinfeld

"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."
CEO-designate, Siemens AG

Jon Miller

"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."

"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!"
author of Love Is the Killer App: How to Win Business and Influence Friends and leadership coach at Yahoo!

Tim Sanders

"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!"
author of Love Is the Killer App: How to Win Business and Influence Friends and leadership coach at Yahoo!

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Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 75 reviews.
Walter-Lake More than 1 year ago
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.
blm51389 More than 1 year ago
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!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
BizCoach on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A very self-impressed author tell stories of how he developed his network. But it has some useful tips.
astompa on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Fantastic tips and stories. One flaw is that it doesn't address introverts, who would be completely exhausted by Ferrazzi's uber-extrovert style.
diamondb on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I picked up this book on the recommendation of a very successful businessman. The book is full of great ideas, however the tone of the book seemed to be one of "everyone must be able to do what I can". I plugged through this book, mostly because I assumed that I couldn't have been led that astray by the recommendation. Sadly by the time I got to the last chapters I was finished with hearing what Ferrazzi had to say.I'm not going to argue with what he has to say, as I agree with a great deal of it. Of course, I've read basically the same thing in "Think & Grow Rich" and "The Millionaire Real Estate Agent" so frankly what Ferrazzi is saying is pretty old hat. If you're looking for some advice, yeah you could work your way through this, but frankly I'd just go back to the original and read "Think & Grow Rich".
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book a few years ago as a young professional and didn’t really understand the valuable content in this book. Now that my career is more about relationships, this book is a must have.
Leo_B More than 1 year ago
Never Eat Alone is a pretty great read if you are looking for new tactics and helpful tips to expand your professional circle and work your way up the ladder. Keith Ferrazzi, CEO of Ferrazzi Greenlight, tells his own story along with anecdotes about people he knows about how they all improved their lives through smart goal-setting, networking, and research. Ferrazzi's objective is to teach the aspiring professionals that read his book on the value of relationships in the business world. Within the first few pages of the book, Ferrazzi makes it clear that the business world has moved past the "John Wayne individualism" (19) of the 20th Century and is now comprised of relationships that interconnect the entire world. Everyone wants something, and wants someone to satisfy their needs, and Ferrazzi explains that "networking was about finding ways to make other people more successful" (63). Through the use of personal anecdotes about his rise from the son of a steel mill worker to the CEO of his own company, Keith Ferrazzi provides excellent support for his arguments on the merit of reaching out to others in order to build a stronger professional circle that will take you farther than you ever could go on your own. For example, the story early on in the book when Ferrazzi asserts the importance of never "keeping score" of the favors you give away about how when Ferrazzi attempted to move into the entertainment industry in Los Angeles and met with an entrepreneur named David. When Ferrazzi asked him if he could call in a favor and introduce him to a senior executive at Paramount, David declined because he believed he had a finite amount of favors from this executive and that the relationship could wear thin but Ferrazzi knew better that relationships become stronger the more you use them. He capped of this anecdote by explaining that ten years later, nobody had heard of David or knew what he was doing. Ferrazzi lives and breathes his advice every day as he goes out to run his company along with writing books and speaking at colleges. His success in following his advice on networking and building relationships is impressive. Through his interactions with others he rose from a middle class coal mining town in Pennsylvania to running his own company, One example of the importance of relationships is when he points out that students everywhere ask him the secret of being successful and his answer is "generosity" (26). While the students are confused he expands his answer by explaining that the road to Yale and Harvard business school was not paved by him solely but by the generosity of friends and acquaintances in his circle. He states that relationships are built on trust and trust is built by not asking what others can do for you, but what you can do for others. Immediately after that line, Ferrazzi says "The currency of real networking is not greed but generosity" (33). As a whole, Never Eat Alone is a great place to start as a professional looking to expand his circle of associates and propel themselves forward in their careers. Keith Ferrazzi shares his secrets of building genuine relationships that can last years and serve you immensely. Being great by yourself is not enough anymore, you need to be great and have great people surrounding you and helping you become greater. Never Eat Alone can help you take that first step.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.”
CENY More than 1 year ago
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.
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