Never Eat Alone- Keith Ferrazzi

I generally enjoyed this read, I like Keith’s scrappy, rags-to-riches story. My dad grew up very close by in Western Pennsylvania, in the shadows of the Rolling Rock fortunes, and had similar stories of meeting Arnie Palmer at the country club in Latrobe. But Keith went onto to leverage his job as a caddy at the Latrobe country club into a super-networkers dream job and use that as a springboard for later successes. I envy the stories of how Keith’s dad pushed him from the very beginning to interact with all those important people around him. It’s a skill I’ve always struggled with and feel I really have to work on.

The book rambles through Keith’s life in a memoir-ish fashion, which does undermine it somewhat. I loved how he was able to show his life developing, especially through the help of his many role-models, advisors and mentors. But viewing it from the web startup point of view, I can only see what an abject failure his past business YaYa Media was. He seems to have rebounded into a successful consulting, writing & speaking career but I still wonder if he’s just a networker for networking’s sake. From the tone of the bok and especially his chapter “Balance is BS” that may very well be the case. How can you have time to build a business if all you are doing is networking? That’s actually been more problem with some of the web startup scene- too much networking for the sake of, and too little building a real, paying client base and a growing successful business. But I digress.

Another problem is that the book hit in 2005 right at the beginning of the social media revolution. This means that although Keith touches on blogs and the online world, it is mostly in passing. It is such a central part of business relationships now that the book feels outdated from the mere 4 years that have passed. I’m interested in reading some of his later works and checking out Greenlight Community to see if Keith has kept pace.

But where the bookreally is a defining text is in repeatedly driving home quite practical, often obvious, to-do’s for relationship-building. Keep organized, set goals, work with gate-keepers, reach out selflessly and find some value you can give to people you’re reaching out to, follow up religiously. I could be better at all points. One of the ways Keith kept hitting upon to do that is to make sustainable platforms for interacting with people- monthly dinner parties, starting your own clubs or conferences, or whatever. It takes work, but I can see how valuable this can be.

I think I can leverage much of this advice as I find my own balance and own path to build great connections as I work to grow my own biz and I think this would be a good book to revisit as I do.