Never Eat Alone

“In life it wasn’t what you know, but who you know. I had people who were trying to buy teams and had they bought the teams, I would have gotten to coach because they wanted me to coach. But the people who have the teams hire their friends.” – Rick Barry

At any time I am looking to hire someone. Usually, it’s a six-figure job.

Right now, for instance, I’m looking for someone to run an overseas real estate development business. Not only will it pay a good salary, it will put the right person in position to make millions – possibly billions – in the years ahead.

Here’s the thing: I’ve been looking for this person for more than two years now. And so far, I haven’t found anyone I like.

What’s the problem? In a word, my problem is networking. When it comes to hiring serious people – people who can run businesses for me and my colleagues – I’m not willing to go through a routine hiring process. I’d much rather work through referrals.

Given that I’ve been in the international real estate development business for only a few years, and that most of what I’ve done so far has been completely ad hoc, I don’t have a lot of contacts. Moreover, it’s always difficult to find really good business leaders, even if you are looking in a market you know very well. That’s because really good business leaders are already working. Or at least 90% of them are. And those who are working are usually very well paid. It’s not easy to get them to come over and take a chance on a new venture.

(And with Michael Masterson, there are lots of new ventures.)

Good people are very, very hard to find. And so when you find them, you are happy to treat them very, very well.

Hey! You’re a good person! What about you?

The problem with you is that you probably don’t have any proven experience in international real estate development. And I’m probably not going to let you try your hand at it on my dollar. And even if you do have such experience, I don’t know you. And I don’t know anyone who does know you. So I’m not willing to take the chance.

I’m not writing this article to solicit help in filling the position I just talked about (there are actually about three such positions I’m working on right now), but to draw your attention to the other side of this problem: the opportunity for you to advance your career and skyrocket your income (one of the six steps of “Automatic Wealth”) by networking.

Yes, networking – that business school cliche.

There’s a good new book on the subject. It’s called “Never Eat Alone”, written by Keith Ferrazzi, a “supernetworker,” and Tahl Raz, a contributing editor to Fortune Small Business).

“After two decades of successfully applying the power of relationships in my own life and career,” Ferrazzi writes in the introductory chapter, “I’ve come to believe that connecting is one of the most important business – and life – skill sets that you’ll ever learn. Why? Because flat out, people do business with people they know and like.”

Ferrazzi is teaching seminars on the subject at Stanford, Wharton, and elsewhere. He cites a recent Bureau of Labor Statistics study which found that though about one in five Americans got their jobs by networking, an amazing 72% of those who make six figures – over three times the national average – got their positions through a friend, old school chum, or colleague.

If you took a survey of the people who have successfully changed their careers after taking one of ETR’s or AWAI’s career-change programs, you’d find an astonishing number who did so through networking. For example, at age 23, with no money, no experience, and no college education, Cathy Cairns created a unique networking campaign – the likes of which had never been done before. She had only one objective: to get an assignment from her “dream client,” Nightingale-Conant. They soon called Cathy with an assignment, and she is now one of their top writers. Another independent freelancer, Vic Elias, adapted Cathy’s model to get the attention of publisher Rodale and other top accounts. “I picked half a dozen target dream clients, used Cathy’s method, and got three very excited responses with offers for work,” says Vic. “My plate is already quite full.”

In “Selling Yourself”, AWAI’s complete program on marketing yourself as a copywriter or graphic designer, Bob Bly says: “I always hated networking because I believed success should be based on WHAT you know, not WHO you know. But in the real world, success is based on both what you know AND who you know, and to deny this by avoiding networking is stupid and silly. Cathy’s method works, and most important to me, it works for introverts, which I am and which Cathy is too! So even if you’re shy, it’s the perfect business building tool for you!” Ferrazzi and Raz make the following suggestions for successful networking.

Decide on your mission and write down detailed short-term  and long-term goals. “The more specific you are about  what you want to do, the easier it becomes to develop a  strategy to accomplish it. Part of that strategy … is  establishing relationships with the people in your universe  who can help you get where you’re going.” “Build  it before you need it.” Start working now on the connections  you may need in a few years.

Dare to be audacious. “Fear debilitates. Once you realize  there’s no benefit to holding back, every situation and  every person – no matter how seemingly beyond your reach  – becomes an opportunity to succeed.”

Be transparent. “People respond with trust when they  know you’re dealing straight with them. Coy games may work  in a bar, but not when you’re looking to establish a deeper,  more meaningful connection.”
Ferrazzi’s greatest strength as a networking expert, if you ask me, is that he realizes you will get more by giving more. Networking is not about bringing people together and handing them business cards. Nor is it horse trading, he says.

“Don’t keep score. If you give, give, and give some more. It will come back to you.”

“Generosity is the key to success.”

[Ed. Note: Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]