1. 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
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. Until you become as willing to ask for help as you are to give
it, however, you are only working half the equation.
6. But to do so, first you have to stop keeping score. You can't
amass a network of connections without introducing such connections to others with equal fervor. The more people you help,
the more help you'll have and the more help you'll have helping
7. In other words, the currency of real networking is not greed
8. Bottom line: It's better to give before you receive. And
never keep score. If your interactions are ruled by generosity,
your rewards will follow suit.
9. The business world is a fluid, competitive landscape; yesterday's assistant is today's influence peddler. Many of the young
men and women who used to answer my phones now thankfully take my calls. Remember, it's easier to get ahead in the
world when those below you are happy to help you get ahead,
rather than hoping for your downfall.
10. Every successful person I've met shared, in varying degrees, a
zeal for goal setting. Successful athletes, CEOs, charismatic leaders, rainmaking salespeople, and accomplished managers all know
what they want in life, and they go after it.
11. As my dad used to say, no one becomes an astronaut by
12. Yale's class of 1953 a number of questions. Three had to do with
Have you set goals?
Have you written them down?
Do you have a plan to accomplish them?
13. It turned out that only 3 percent of the Yale class had written
down their goals, with a plan of action to achieve them. Thirteen
percent had goals but had not written them down. Fully 84 percent had no specific goals at all, other than to "enjoy themselves."
14. In 1973, when the same class was resurveyed, the differences
between the goal setters and everyone else were stunning. The 13
percent who had goals that were not in writing were earning, on
average, twice as much as the 84 percent of students who had no
goals at all. But most surprising of all, the 3 percent who had written their goals down were earning, on average, ten times as much
as the other 97 percent of graduates combined![So, apparently this never happened - Where can I find information on Yale's 1953 goal study? - Ask Yale Library]
15. The tool I use is something I call the Networking Action Plan.
The Plan is separated into three distinct parts: The first part is
devoted to the development of the goals that will help you fulfill
your mission. The second part is devoted to connecting those goals
to the people, places, and things that will help you get the job done.
And the third part helps you determine the best way to reach out to
the people who will help you to accomplish your goals.
16. From Clinton, two lessons are clear: First, the more specific you
are about where you want to go in life, the easier it becomes to
develop a networking strategy to get there.
17. Second, be sensitive to making a real connection in your interactions with others. There is almost an expectation among us that
whoever becomes rich or powerful can be forgiven for high-handed
behavior. Clinton illustrates how charming and popular you can
become, and remain, when you treat everyone you meet with
18. In business, we often say that your best customers are the customers you have now. In other words, your most successful sales
leads come from the selling you've already done. The highest
returns don't come from new sales; they come on top of the customer base you've already established. It's easiest to reach out to
those people who are at least tangentially part of your network.
19. Sometimes I fail. I've got an equally long list of people I've
attempted to befriend who weren't interested in my overtures.
20. All of which reveals an inner truth about the skill of reaching out
to others: Those who are best at it don't network—they make
21. Trust me, all people naturally care, generally
above and beyond anything else, about what it is they do. If you
are informed enough to step comfortably into their world and talk knowledgeably, their appreciation will be tangible. As William
James wrote: "The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated."
22. The people who are on Crain's "40 Under 40" aren't necessarily the forty
best businesspeople. They are, however, probably the forty most
connected. And they probably all have lunched with one another
at one time or another. When you get to know these people, and
the people they know (including the journalists at Crain's responsible for the "40 Under 40"), you're that much more likely to be on
the list yourself the next time it appears
23. And second, cold calls are for suckers. I don't call cold—ever.
I've created strategies that ensure every call I make is a warm
24. In fifteen seconds, I used my four rules for what I call warm
calling: 1) Convey credibility by mentioning a familiar person
or institution—in this case, John, Jeff, and WebMD. 2) State your
value proposition: Jeff's new product would help Serge sell his
new products. 3) Impart urgency and convenience by being prepared to do whatever it takes whenever it takes to meet the other
person on his or her own terms. 4) Be prepared to offer a compromise that secures a definite follow-up at a minimum.
25. Remember, in most instances, the sole objective of the cold
call is, ultimately, to get an appointment where you can discuss the
proposition in more detail, not to close the sale. In my experience,
deals, like friendships, are made only one-to-one, face-to-face
26. Secretaries and assistants are more than just helpful associates to their bosses. If they are any good, they become trusted
friends, advocates, and integral parts of their professional, and
even personal, lives.
27. As important as gatekeepers are within an organization, they're
that much more important when you're working from the
28. In building a network, remember: Above all, never, ever
Keep your social and conference and event calendar full. As an
up-and-comer, you must work hard to remain visible and active
among your ever-budding network of friends and contacts.
29. His formula is not complicated, but it is rigorous. He talks to at
least fifty people each day. He spends hours a week walking his
company plant talking to employees up and down the ladder. If
you send an e-mail to him or his assistant, you can be sure there
will be a response within hours. He attributes his success to the
blue-collar work ethic and sensibilities he was raised with by his
father. About his more starched white-collar colleagues, he once
told me that while he had learned what these people know, they
would never have an opportunity to learn what he knew.
30. The more new connections you establish, the more opportunities you'll have to make even more new connections. As Robert
Metcalfe, the inventor of Ethernet, says: The value of a network
grows proportional to the square of the number of its users. In the
case of the Internet, every new computer, every new server, and
every new user added expands the possibilities for everyone else
who's already there. The same principle holds true in growing
your web of relationships. The bigger it gets, the more attractive it
becomes, and the faster it grows. That's why I say that a network is
like a muscle—the more you work it, the bigger it gets.
31. My point is, behind any successful person stands a long string of
failures. But toughness and tenacity like Lincoln's can overcome
these setbacks. Lincoln knew the only way to gain ground, to move
forward, to turn his goals into reality, was to learn from his setbacks, to stay engaged, and press on!
have a confession to make. I've never been to a so-called "networking event" in my life.
If properly organized, these get-togethers in theory could work.
Most, however, are for the desperate and uninformed.
33. When it comes to meeting people, it's not only whom you get
to know but also how and where you get to know them.
first class is not something most people can afford, but there's an
interesting camaraderie among those front seats that you won't
find back in coach. To begin with, there are always a number of
movers and shakers up front, in close quarters, for hours at a time.
Because they've slapped down an absurd premium for the luxury
of getting off the plane a few seconds earlier than the rest of the
passengers, fellow first-classers assume you, too, are important.
35. I can't tell you how many valuable clients and contacts I've met
during a conversation struck up during an in-flight meal. (By the
way, this is the only acceptable time to bother your seat mate.)
36. At a so-called "networking event," the dynamics are just the
opposite. People assume you're in the same boat they are—desperate. Credibility is hard to gain. If you're jobless, doesn't it make
more sense to hang with the job-givers than fellow job-seekers?
37. Shared interests are the basic building blocks of any relationship. Race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or business, professional, and personal interests are relational glue. It
makes sense, then, that events and activities where you'll thrive are
those built around interests you're most passionate about.
38. Popular blogs attract like-minded legions to their sites. The blogosphere (the community of active bloggers writing on topics that
range from spirituality to sports) has grown from a dozen or so
Web logs in 1999 to an estimated five million today.
39. I have a friend who is the executive vice president of a large
bank in Charlotte. His networking hotspot is, of all places, the
YMCA. He tells me that at 5 and 6 in the morning, the place is
buzzing with exercise fanatics like himself getting in a workout
before they go to the office. He scouts the place for entrepreneurs,
current customers, and prospects. Then, as he's huffing and puffing on the StairMaster, he answers their questions about investments and loans.
your passions as a guide to which activities and events you should
be seeking out. Use them to engage new and old contacts. If you
love baseball, for example, take potential and current clients to a ballgame. It doesn't matter what you do, only that it's something
you love doing.
41. Your passions and the events you build around them will
create deeper levels of intimacy. Pay attention to matching the
event to the particular relationship you're trying to build. I've got
an informal list of activities I use to keep in touch with my business and personal friends. Here are some things I like to do:
- Fifteen minutes and a cup of coffee. It's quick, it's out of the
office, and it's a great way to meet someone new.
- Conferences. If I'm attending a conference in, say, Seattle, I'll
pull out a list of people in the area I know or would like to
know better and see if they might like to drop in for a particularly interesting keynote speech or dinner.
- Invite someone to share a workout or a hobby (golf, chess,
stamp collecting, a book club, etc.).
- A quick early breakfast, lunch, drinks after work, or dinner
together. There's nothing like food to break the ice.
- Invite someone to a special event.
- Entertaining at home.
42. Good follow-up alone elevates
you above 95 percent of your peers. The follow-up is the hammer
and nails of your networking tool kit. In fact, FOLLOW-UP IS THE KEY TO SUCCESS IN ANY
43. Making sure a new acquaintance retains your name (and the
favorable impression you've created) is a process you should set in
motion right after you've met someone. Give yourself between twelve and twenty-four hours after you
meet someone to follow up. If you meet somebody on a plane,
send them an e-mail later that day. If you meet somebody over
cocktails, again, send them an e-mail the next morning
44. But remember—and this is critical—don't remind them of
what they can do for you, but focus on what you might be able to
do for them. It's about giving them a reason to want to follow up.
45. Another effective way to follow up is to clip relevant articles
and send them to the people in your network who might be interested. When people do this for me, I'm tremendously appreciative; it shows they're thinking about me and the issues I'm facing.
46. Smart salespeople—in fact,
smart employees and business owners of all stripes—spend 80
percent of their time building strong relationships with the people
they do business with.
47. Calm yourself. First, you should know that giving speeches is
one of the easiest and most effective ways to get yourself, your
business, and your ideas seen, heard of, and remembered, and you
don't need to be Tony Robbins to find yourself a forum of people
willing to hear you out
48. The American Society of
Association Executives (ASAE) says the meetings industry is a
nearly $83 billion market, with over $56 billion being spent annually on conventions and seminars alone. That ranks conferences—
get this!—as the twenty-third-largest contributor to the Gross
49. Study after study shows that the more speeches
one gives, the higher one's income bracket tends to be.
50. Most people think a conference is a good time to market their
wares. They rush from room to room desperately trying to sell
themselves. But a commando knows that you have to get people to
like you first. The sales come later—in the follow-up discussions
you have after the conference. Now is the time to begin to build
trust and a relationship.
51. It has become part of our accepted wisdom that six degrees is all
that separates us from anyone else in the world. How can that
be? Because some of those degrees (people) know many, many
more people than the rest of us.
52. Call them super-connectors. We all know at least one person
like this individual, who seems to know everybody and who
everybody seems to know. You'll find a disproportionate amount
of super-connectors as headhunters, lobbyists, fundraisers, politicians, journalists, and public relations specialists, because such
positions require these folks' innate abilities. I am going to argue
that such people should be the cornerstones to any flourishing
53. Granovetter discovered that 56 percent of those surveyed
found their current job through a personal connection. Only 19
percent used what we consider traditional job-searching routes,
like newspaper job listings and executive recruiters. Roughly 10
percent applied directly to an employer and obtained the job.
54. And it's quite easy to get to know a restaurateur. The smart ones will go out of their way to make your experience delightful.
All you have to do is reach out and go there often enough.
When in a new city, I generally ask people to give me a list of a
few of the hottest (and most established) restaurants. I like to call
ahead and ask to speak with the owner (though the maitre d' will
do) and tell them that I go out regularly, sometimes in large parties, and I'm looking for a new place to entertain, a lot!
55. Recruiters. Job-placement counselors. Search executives. They are
like gatekeepers. Instead of answering to one executive, however,
the really successful ones may answer to hundreds of executives in
the field in which they recruit.
Headhunters are professional matchmakers, earning their
wage by introducing job candidates to companies that are hiring.
Should you get the job, the headhunter gets a sizable commission,
typically a percentage of the successful candidate's first year's
56. The other advice in this area is to act as a pseudo-headhunter
yourself, always on the lookout to connect job-hunters and jobseekers or consultants and companies. When you help people land
a new gig, they'll be inclined to remember you if they hear of a
new position opening.
57. Studying a group of MBAs a decade after their graduation, he found
that grade-point average had no bearing on success. The one trait that was common among the class's most accomplished graduates
was "verbal fluency." Those that had built businesses and climbed
the corporate ladder with amazing speed were those who could
confidently make conversation with anyone in any situation.
Investors, customers, and bosses posed no more of a threat than
colleagues, secretaries, and friends. In front of an audience, at a
dinner, or in a cab, these people knew how to talk.
58. Once you know heartfelt candor is more effective than canned
quips in starting a meaningful conversation, the idea of "breaking
the ice" becomes easy. Too many of us believe "breaking the ice"
means coming up with a brilliant, witty, or extravagantly insightful remark. But few among us are Jay Leno or David Letterman.
When you realize the best icebreaker is a few words from the heart, the act of starting a conversation becomes far less daunting.
always told people I believe that every conversation you have is an
invitation to risk revealing the real you. What's the worst that can
happen? They don't respond in kind. So what. They probably
weren't worth knowing in the first place. But if the risk pays off,
well, now you've just turned a potentially dull exchange into
something interesting or even perhaps personally insightful—and
more times than not, a real relationship is formed.
60. These days, I rarely blanch at the chance to introduce topics of
conversation that some consider off-limits. Spirituality, romance,
politics—these are some of the issues that make life worth living.
61. The real winners—those with astounding careers, warm relationships, and unstoppable charisma—are those people who put
it all out there and don't waste a bunch of time and energy trying
to be something (or someone) they're not. Charm is simply a matter of being yourself. Your uniqueness is your power. We are all
born with innate winning traits to be a masterful small talker.
62. In my initial conversation with someone I'm just getting to
know, whether it's a new men tee or simply a new business contact,
I try to find out what motivations drive that person. It often
comes down to one of three things: making money, finding love,
or changing the world. You laugh—most people do when confronted with the reality of their deepest desires.
63. "Keith," he said, "there are three things in this world that
engender deep emotional bonds between people. They are health,
wealth, and children."
There are a lot of things we can do for other people: give good
advice, help them wash their car, or help them move. But health,
wealth, and children affect us in ways other acts of kindness
When you help someone through a health issue, positively
impact someone's personal wealth, or take a sincere interest in
their children, you engender life-bonding loyalty.
64. "Stop driving yourself—and everyone else—crazy thinking about
how to make yourself successful. Start thinking about how you're
going to make everyone around you successful."
65. My point? Real power comes from being indispensable. Indispensability comes from being a switchboard, parceling out as
much information, contacts, and goodwill to as many people—in
as many different worlds—as possible
66. Most of us know the people within our own professional and
social group, and little more. Through other connectors, and on
your own, I would urge you to make a point of knowing as many
people from as many different professions and social groups as
possible. The ability to bridge different worlds, and even different people within the same profession, is a key attribute in managers
who are paid better and promoted faster, according to an influential study conducted by Ron Burt, a professor at the University of
Chicago Graduate School of Business.
67. "People who have contacts in separate groups have a competitive advantage because we live in a system of bureaucracies, and
bureaucracies create walls," says Burt. "Individual managers with
entrepreneurial networks move information faster, are highly
mobile relative to bureaucracy, and create solutions better
adapted to the needs of the organization."
68. To paraphrase Dale Carnegie: You can be more successful in
two months by becoming really interested in other people's success than you can in two years trying to get other people interested
in your own success.
f 80 percent of success is, as Woody Allen once said, just showing up, then 80 percent of building and maintaining relationships is just staying in touch.
70. I'm told that the
consulting firm McKinsey and Company actually has a rule of
thumb that one hundred days after a new CEO takes charge of a
company, McKinsey assigns one of their consultants to call and
see how McKinsey might help. One hundred days is, McKinsey
figures, just enough time for the new CEO to feel that he or she knows what the issues and problems are, but not enough time to
have gotten his or her arms around the solutions.
71. My personal favorite pinging occasion remains birthdays, the
neglected stepchild of life's celebrated moments. As you get
older, the people around you start forgetting your big day (mostly
because they think they want to forget their own).
72. Six to ten guests, I've found, is the optimal number to invite to
when you invite someone to dinner, you get a 20 to 30 percent
acceptance rate because of scheduling difficulties.
74. In short, forget your job title and forget your job description
(for the moment, at least). Starting today, you've got to figure out
what exceptional expertise you're going to master that will provide real value to your network and your company.
75. Just remember that famous and powerful people are first and
foremost people: They're proud, sad, insecure, hopeful, and if you
can help them achieve their goals, in whatever capacity, they will
76. Sports and exercise are terrific areas where you can meet new,
important people. On the field or court, in the gym or on the
track, it's a level playing field. Reputation means little.
77. Start an organization. And
invite those you want to meet to join you. Gaining members will be easy. Like most clubs, it starts with your group of friends, who
then select their own friends. Over time, those people will bring in
even more new and intriguing people.
78. Building a community of
like-minded people around a common cause or interest is, and
has always been, a very compelling proposition in its own right.
79. Runyon's tough-luck stories about equally tough
characters had a lot of emotional resonance for my dad. His
favorite quote of Runyon's was "Always try to rub up against
money, for if you rub up against money long enough, some of it
may rub off on you."
80. Dr. David McClelland of Harvard University
researched the qualities and characteristics of high achievers in our
society. What he found was that your choice of a "reference group,"
the people you hang out with, was an important factor in determining your future success or failure. In other words, if you hang
with connected people, you're connected. If you hang with successful people, you're more likely to become successful yourself.
81. The best way to approach utility is to give help first, and not
ask for it. If there is someone whose knowledge you need, find a
way to be of use to that person. Consider their needs and how you
can assist them. If you can't help them specifically, perhaps you
can contribute to their charity, company, or community.
82. I think the problem in today's world isn't that we have too
many people in our lives, it's that we don't have enough. Dr. Will
Miller and Glenn Sparks, in their book Refrigerator Rights: Creating Connections and Restoring Relationships, argue that with our
increased mobility, American emphasis on individualism, and the
overwhelming media distractions available to us, we lead lives of
83. Ultimately, making your mark as a connector means making a
contribution—to your friends and family, to your company, to
your community, and most important, to the world—by making
the best use of your contacts and talents.
begets more creativity, money begets more money, knowledge begets more knowledge, more friends beget more friends,
success begets even more success. Most important, giving begets
giving. At no time in history has this law of abundance been more
apparent than in this connected age where the world increasingly
functions in accord with networking principles.