Top Quotes: “Never Eat Alone” — Keith Ferrazzi

Background: Ferrazzi shares his tips and tricks for achieving a successful career — focusing heavily on networking inside and outside of one’s workplace. Definitely a lot of great things to try and mindsets to adopt when you’re at work!

Meeting New Contacts

“Poverty isn’t only a lack of financial resources but isolation from the kind of people who could help you make more of yourself.”

“I think of my ‘networking’ habits as 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.”

“Real networking is about finding ways to make other people more successful.”

“My time-tested script that anyone can use when meeting someone for the first time:

“Before I meet with any new people I’ve been thinking of introducing myself to, I research who they are and what their business is. I find out what’s important to them: their hobbies, challenges, goals — inside their business and out. Before the meeting, I generally prepare a one-page synopsis on the person. The only criterion for what should be included is that I want to know what this person is like as a human being, what they feel strongly about, and what their proudest achievements are.”

“If you’re informed enough to step comfortably into their world and talk knowledgeably, their appreciation will be tangible. Here’s a few ways to do such research:

“I never shy away from mentioning the research I’ve done. ‘I always make a special effort to inquire about the people I’d like to meet.’ Inevitably, people are flattered. Wouldn’t you be? Instantly, the other person knows that rather than suffering though a strained half hour with a stranger, they’re able to connect with someone with whom they share an interest, someone who’s gone out of their way to get to know them better.”

“Compromise is a powerful force in human relationships. It’s been statistically shown that when Boy Scouts who are turned down when trying to sell raffle tickets offer candy bars instead (a less costly item), customers will buy the candy even if they don’t really want it. In giving in to the concession, people feel as if they’re holding up their social obligation to others. So remember, try for a lot — it’ll help you settle for what it is you really need.”

“FOLLOW-UP IS THE KEY TO SUCCESS IN ANY FIELD. 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 12–24 hours after you meet someone to follow up. For random encounters and chance meetings, email is a fine tool for dropping a quick note to say, ‘It was a pleasure meeting you. We must keep in touch.’ In such an email, I like to cite something particular we talked about in the course of our conversation — whether a shared hobby or business interest — that serves as a mental reminder of who I am. You might follow the email up with a LinkedIn request. Depending on the circumstances and how well we clicked, I might send a Facebook request as well — I’m always careful to give them an easy out: ‘If you use Facebook for new friends, I’d love to connect here. If not, no worries — I’ll be in touch.’ When I leave the meeting, I put the name and email of the new acquaintance in my contact list and program my calendar to remind me in a month’s time to drop the person another email, just to keep in touch.”

In the aftermath of a business meeting, always reiterate the commitments everyone has made, and ask when a second follow-up meeting can be arranged. When the other person has agreed to do something, whether it’s meeting for coffee next time you’re in town or signing a major deal, try to get it in writing. It shouldn’t be formulaic or ironclad, just something such as ‘It was great talking to you over lunch yesterday. I wanted to follow up with some thoughts we discussed. I believe I can serve the interests of your company and I’ve had time to work out the finer details. The next time I’m in town, I’d love to get on your calendar and chat for 5–10 minutes.’ Nine times out of ten, the person will casually write back accepting your offer to meet again. Then, when the time comes to take that person up on his offer to talk again, you can call him with the force of his email commitment ‘in writing’ behind you. He’s already agreed to meet. Now the question is when, and your persistence will assure that happens at some point. And remember to focus on what you might be able to do for them — it’s about giving them a reason to follow up. Another effective way to follow up is to forward relevant articles 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.”

Conferences & Groups

When sessions open up for questions, try and be among the first people to put your hand in the air. A really well-informed and insightful question is a mini-opportunity to get seen by the entire audience. Be sure to introduce yourself, tell people what company you work for and what you do, and then ask a question that leaves the audience buzzing. Ideally, the question should be related to your expertise so you have something to say when someone comes up and says, ‘That was an interesting question.’”

“Are there worlds you want access to? If so, see if you can find a central figure within that world to act as your own one-person host committee. In a business context, say you plan on selling a new product that your company is introducing several months down the line, and most of your customers will be lawyers. Go to your personal lawyer, tell him about the product, and ask him if he’d be willing to come with a few of his lawyer friends to a dinner that you’d like to host. Tell him that not only will he and his friends get an early look at this fabulous new product, but they’ll have an opportunity to meet your friends, who could become potential clients. They’ll become responsible for holding events that will usher you into their group of friends. You’ll become responsible for doing the same.”

“Everyone has something in common with every other person. And you won’t find those similarities if you don’t open up and expose your interests and concerns, allowing others to do likewise. 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. When you realize the best icebreaker is a few words from the heart, the act of starting a conversation becomes far less daunting.”

“You have about ten seconds before a person decides, subconsciously, whether they like you or not, based on nonverbal communication.”

“How do you get someone who doesn’t know you to feel comfortable talking? People are wowed by social decisiveness when it’s offered with compassion and warmth. First, give the person a hearty smile. It says, ‘I’m approachable.’ Maintain a good balance of eye contact. If you maintain an unblinking stare 100% of the time, that qualifies as leering and is plain scary. If you keep eye contact less than 70% of the time, you’ll seem disinterested and rude. Somewhere in between is the balance you’re looking for. Unfold your arms and relax. Crossing your arms can make you appear defensive or closed. It also signals tension. Relax! People will pick up on your body language and react accordingly. Nod your head and lean in, but without invading the other person’s space. You just want to show that you’re engaged and interested. Learn to touch people. Touching is a powerful act. Most people convey their friendly intentions by shaking hands; some go further by shaking with two hands. My favorite way to break through the distance between the person I’m trying to establish a bond with and me is to touch the other person’s elbow. It conveys just the right amount of intimacy and, as such, is a favorite of politicians. It’s not too close to the chest, which we protect, but it’s slightly more personal than a hand.”

“The surest way to become special in others’ eyes is to make them feel special.”

“When meeting someone new, be prepared to have something to say.

“Successful communication depends on the degree to which we can align ourselves and our windows to match those we interact with. Remain true to yourself no matter who you’re speaking with, but deliver your message in a tone and style that fit the other person best. In a meeting with investment bankers, who are typically hard-driving and analytical, I ratchet down the excitement and focus on being deliberate and precise. If we address someone with the wrong style, the window may be shut without nothing revealed. No connection is made. One helpful technique I use is to try to envision myself as a mirror to the person with whom I’m speaking. What’s the cadence of her speech? How loudly does she talk? What’s her body language? By adjusting your behavior to mirror the person you’re talking to, she’ll automatically feel more comfortable.

“How do you conclude a conversation? During meetings and social gatherings, I’m usually quite blunt. I’ll mention something meaningful that was said in the course of our conversation and say, ‘There are so many wonderful people here tonight. I’d feel remiss if I didn’t at least try to get to know a few more of them. Would you excuse me for a second?’ People generally understand and appreciate the honesty. There’s also always the drink option. I’ll say, ‘I’m going to get another drink. Would you like one?’ If they say no, I don’t have an obligation to come back. If they say yes, I’ll be sure to enter into another conversation on the way to the bar. When I return with a drink, I’ll say, ‘I just ran into some people you should meet. Come on over.’”

“In order to establish a lasting connection, small talk needs to end on an invitation to continue the relationship. Be complementary and establish a verbal agreement to meet again, even if it’s not business. ‘You really seem to know your wines. I’ve enjoyed tapping your wisdom; we should get together sometime to talk about wine. We can both bring one of our interesting bottles.’”

“Always, always, remember the other person’s name. Nothing is sweet to someone’s ears than their own name. At the moment of introduction, I visually attach a person’s name to his face. Seconds later, I’ll repeat the name to make sure I got it, and then again periodically throughout the conversation.”

“The answer to ‘What do you really want?’ determines all that you do and all the people who help you accomplish it. It provides the blueprint for all your efforts to reach out and connect with others. Likewise, when you understand someone else’s mission, you hold the key to opening the door to what matters most to them. Knowing that will help you create deep, long-lasting bonds.”

The only way to get people to do anything is to recognize their importance and thereby make them feel important. Every person’s deepest lifelong desire is to be significant and recognized. What better way is there to show appreciation and to lavish praise on others than to take an interest in who they are and what their mission is?”

Keeping in Touch

“There are three things in the world that engender deep emotional bonds in people: health, wealth, and children. There’s 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 do not. 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.

“People you’re contacting to create a new relationship with need to see or hear your name in at least three modes of communication — by say, an email, a call, or a face-to-face encounter — before there is substantive recognition.”

“Once you’ve gained some early recognition, you need to mature a developing relationship with a call or email at least once a month.”

“If you want to transform a contact into a friend, you need a minimum of two face-to-face meetings out of the office.”

“Maintaining a secondary relationship requires 2–3 pings per year.”

“Social media pings (status updates, retweets, comments) are terrific for ongoing relationship maintenance, especially for the fringe of your network, but they don’t replace the need for one-to-one pinging with the people in your highest-priority network, those people connected to your current goals.”

“Print out your master list of contacts that contains all the people in your network under the categories you’ve placed them in. The question now is: How often do you contact each person on the list? I’ll write a number next to each name. A 1 gets contacted at least once a month. This means I’m actively involved with the person, whether it’s a friend or a new business associate. With new relationships, a 1 generally means I have yet to solidify the relationship with at least 3 different forms of communication. Each time I reach out to a person, I like to include a very short note next to their name telling me the last time I contacted them and how. If last month I sent an email to a 1, this month I’ll give a call. If I have a free moment in a cab, I’ll go down my list of 1s and make several calls or texts to keep in touch with people I haven’t spoken to recently.”

“A 2 rating indicates my ‘touch base’ people — either casual acquaintances or people who I already know well. They get a quarterly call or email, and I monitor their social media updates to keep up with their news and find opportunities where I can be useful. I try to include these people in occasional mass emails about my business. And like the rest of my network, they get either an annual holiday card or birthday call.”

“Those people rated 3 are people I don’t know well, who because of time and circumstance, I’m unable to develop any significant energy to pinging. These people are strictly acquaintances, people I’ve met in passing but who have found their way into my address book. I hope to reach this group, in some direct way, at least once per year. The surprising thing about this category is that, because you don’t know the person all that well, when do you reach out with a card or email, the reaction is wonderful. Most people are delighted, and their curiosity piqued, when someone they don’t know all that well sends them a note, however short.”

“The third step is segmenting your network into tagged lists to keep your efforts focused. They can be organized by your number ratings, by geography, by industry, and so on. If I’m flying to NYC, for example, I’ll print out a ‘NYC list’ and make a few calls to my 1s when I get off the plane. ‘Hi Jan, I just landed in NYC and it made me think of you. No time to meet on this trip, but I just wanted to touch base.’ This NYC list also proves very helpful a week in advance of the trip in trying to fill in those extra slots of time I may have in my schedule.”

“LinkedIn’s Contacts feature lets you filter your list by tags, and then has options to email contacts, call them, or add notes to their files.”

When I met him that day and received his contact info, I asked for his birth date, as I try to do with everyone. Even today I still interact with plenty of people who aren’t using Facebook, or least who aren’t using it for professional relationships. Asking for a birthday isn’t intrusive, and most people forget I’ve done so the moment after they tell me.”

Dinner Parties

6–10 guests is the optimal number to invite to a dinner. I also invite an extra 6 or so people to pop in before or come after for drinks and dessert. This group should be closer friends who won’t be offended about not being invited to the main event but will appreciate being part of the group nonetheless. Generally, when you invite someone to dinner, you get a 20–30% acceptance rate. When invitees say they can’t come because of another dinner or engagement, I often suggest they come before for appetizers or after for dessert. These ‘bonus guests’ will arrive a little before dinner has concluded. I’ll have folding chairs at the ready so they can pull up next to the dinner table, have dessert, and chat with the guests. Just when most dinner parties tend to slip and people begin to look at their watches thinking about what time they have to get up the next morning, the energy level spikes with a whole new group. Suddenly, the dinner turns raucous again.”

“Thursdays are wonderful days for dinner parties. It doesn’t cut in people’s weekend plans and yet folks are willing to go a little late knowing they have only one workday left.”

“Creating a regular dinner party theme around a point of commonality — race, religion, gender, occupation, or anything else — can infuse your get-togethers with added purpose, and help you attract others.”

“There’s no sense in a party being all work. If you can’t hire a caterer, either cook all the food ahead of time or just use takeout. If the food is good and the presentation snazzy, your guests will be impressed. The key to low-budget dinner parties is to keep it simple. Make one large dish, like a stew or chili that can be prepared a day ahead of time. Serve it with great bread or salad. That’s all you need. My other expense is alcohol. Wine is the finest party favor ever created.”

“Make sure to spend an hour or two gussying up your place. Candles, flowers, dim lighting, and music set a good mood. Add a nice centerpiece to the dinner table. Get a young family member to walk around serving drinks. The point is to give your guests all the signals they need that it’s time to enjoy.”

After an event, send your thanks along with a few photos and party highlights via email (bccing everyone). This friendly follow-up helps to pour water on all the seeds of connection planted at the event and prompts your guests to do their own follow-up. They’ll be thankful!”

Mastering Social Media

“Make a dedicated Fringe list on Twitter or Facebook — artists, entrepreneurs, techies, jugglers, whatever. Anyone else of interest who’s not on your usual hit list. Schedule time into your weekly workflow to peruse it. Look at what folks are linking to and sharing to expand your list. Study the blogs, books, and trade media of interesting professionals and leaders in other fields to see what’s working for them — and then consciously think about how you can apply their ideas to your challenges.”

“A super-connector organizes the disorganized — creating community out of disparate network nodes and putting herself at the center. Think about who you might introduce to each other. You, of course, will benefit from bringing that network closer together, but so will everyone else within it. Think email lists, LinkedIn groups, Facebook pages, dinner parties, dinners with speakers, workshops, peer-coaching groups — shifting from virtual to the real world as needed to build momentum and depth. Find ways to create value. Sharing info is a great place to start. Identify the hidden and well-known experts whom your micronetwork needs to know, and make it your business to connect them. Find the research, the news, and the events that are relevant to this group, and be the first to share them.”

“Content is the one true vehicle for building trust online — it’s how people come to know who you are, what you’re about, what you want, what you can provide, whether you’re cool, etc. Articles, blogs, posts, profiles, status updates — every bit and byte that’s produced and associated with you and your name add up to something. Those who figure out the best way to curate all those bits and bytes, and to do so through the right channels at the right time, will create the largest and most productive networks, generate the most and best opportunities, and be the most prepared to pivot their careers should the need arise.”

“Creating content that gets read and builds trust requires you to adopt and communicate the same core values that help you build relationships in the physical world. Here’s my formula: GENEROSITY + VULNERABILITY + ACCOUNTABILITY + CANDOR = TRUST.”

I started being honest…about my fears, concerns, worries, failures in the past — and I’ve had some enormous failure. And traffic on my blog probably went up 20,000%. Every day people call me with opportunities. You need to find your own version of authentic, value-based content that is uniquely you, and infused with generosity, vulnerability, accountability, and candor.”

“Too many people mistakenly think that broadcasting their successes is the only or best way to establish credibility. But ultimately it’s your humanity that makes people care to listen. And it’s your admission that you, too, are human, that makes them trust you about everything else. If you go beyond typical tight boundaries and are truly honest with your colleagues and your competitors and your potential customers, then you suddenly rise above the competition. Everybody knows, this is you.”

“When a now-famous wine social guru got started, he didn’t sign up and start screaming with 10 wine tweets per day. Instead, he hunted down ongoing conversations about wine and joined in. He shared his enthusiasm with other wine nuts, was helpful where he could be, and learned a lot about what people were already tweeting about wine cared about. In this way, he attracted followers who were then thrilled to click on links to his videos. The videos themselves exuded his unpretentious, effervescent personality. Here was a guy who was fun to watch and doing his own thing.”

Making Yourself Valuable

“I’d latch on the latest, most cutting-edge idea in the business world, immerse myself in it, getting to know all the thought leaders pushing the idea and all the literature available. I’d then distill that into a message about the idea’s broader impact to others and how it could be applied to my industry. That was the content. Becoming an expert was the easy part. I simply did what experts do: I taught, wrote, and spoke about my expertise.

“Forget your job title and job description. 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.”

“Identify the people in your industries who always seem to be out in front, and use all the relationship skills you’ve acquired to connect with them. Take them to lunch. Read their groups. In fact, read everything you can. Online, there’s thousands of individuals distilling info, analyzing it, and making prognostications. These armchair analysts are the eyes and ears of innovation. Get online and read, read, read — that’s what the carefully curated news feed is for. Subscribe to magazines, read books, and talk to the smartest people you can find.”

Think of several areas where your company underperforms and choose to focus on the one area that is least attended to. Not long after a mentee of mine was hired at a startup, he noticed that one of the countless issues his company was struggling with was pricey postal rates that were cutting into the company’s margins — not the kind of issue that registers very high on the totem pole of priorities for a startup, but then again, this mentee wasn’t very high up either. He took it upon himself to research the problem by calling the official responsible for small business at UPS, FedEx, and others. A few weeks later, he sent a detailed memo to the CEO about how the company could reduce its postal costs. The CEO was delighted. The mentee’s niche expertise in mail branded him as a valuable up-and-comer in the company, and these days, he’s developing expertise in issues much farther up the totem pole.”

The most gripping stories are those concerning identity — who we are, where we’ve come from, and where we’re going. They tap into something common to all people. The basic concerns of all people — happiness based on contentment, appeasement of suffering, and the forging of meaningful relationships — can act as the foundation for universal ethics in today’s world. You can appeal to your cause by appealing to everyone’s cause. This doesn’t mean your business, your resume, or whatever content you’re trying to pitch actually has to be oversimplified or overly universal. But you should figure out how to spin your yarn in a fashion that A) is simple to understand and B) everybody can relate to. Another way to think about this is to ask yourself: ‘How does my content help others answer who they are, where they are from, or where they are going?’

“Your content — defined by both your expertise and your unique humanity (aka generosity, vulnerability, accountability, candor) — will become the guiding star of your brand, helping to integrate all of your connecting efforts around a uniform and powerful mission. Your brand establishes your worth and takes your mission and content and broadcasts it to the world. It articulates what you have to offer, why you’re unique, and gives a distinct reason for others to connect with you.”

I went out of my way to take on projects no one wanted and initiated projects no one had thought of doing. I emailed my boss and sometimes my boss’ boss, ideas. And I did it almost every day. Every job I’ve ever had, I’ve made an effort to brand myself as an innovator, a thinker, a salesman, and someone could get stuff done. It’s just silly to think you can’t impact people’s personal and professional expectations of who you are. By making the effort, you can break the glass ceiling by expanding people’s view of your capability.

“An airline stewardess suggested that her airline put one olive in their martinis instead of two. The suggestion went on to save the company over $40k a year and the stewardess was — instantly — branded. Today, she’s probably a VP.”

“A successful brand is the promise and guarantee of a mind-shattering experience each and every time. It’s the email you always read because of who it’s from. It’s the employee who always gets the cool projects.”

“To become a brand, you’ve got to become relentlessly focused on what you do that adds value. And I promise you can add value to whatever job you’re doing right now. Can you do what you do faster and more efficiently? If so, why not document what it would take to do so and offer it to your boss as something all employees might do? Do you initiate new projects on your own and in your spare time? Do you search out ways to save or make your company more money?”

What do you want people to think when they hear or read your name? What product or service can you best provide? Take your skills, combine them with your passions, and find out where in the market, or within your own company, they can best be applied.”

“Your message is always an offshoot of your mission and your content. After you’ve sat down and figured out who you want to be, and you’ve written goals in some version of 90-day, 1-year, and 3-year increments, you can build a brand perception that supports all this. Your positioning message should include a list of words that you want people to use when referring to you. Ask your most trusted friends what words they would use to describe you, good and bad. Ask them what are the most important skills and attributes you bring to the table.

“Stand out! Style matters. Whether you like it or not, clothing, hairstyles, business cards, office space, and conversational style are noticed — big time. The design of your brand is critical. Buy some new clothes. Take an honest look at how you present yourself. Ask others how they see you. How do you want to be seen?

“When I was younger, I used to wear bow ties. I felt it was a signature that people would not quickly forget, and it worked. ‘You were the guy who spoke at the conference last year wearing the bow tie,’ I’d hear over and over again. Over time, I was able to give up that signature, as my message and delivery became my brand and I didn’t think the bow tie corresponded to my evolving image of someone on the cutting edge of ideas.”

“You can make a personal site as a cheap marketing tool for your brand to clearly articulate who you are using a free tool like or”

“There are thousands of different ways to get recognized for your expertise. Take on freelance projects. Or within your own company, take on an extra project that might showcase your new skills. Take a class or give a workshop at your own company. Sign up to be on panels at a conference. Most important, remember that your circle of friends, colleagues, clients, and customers is the most powerful vehicle you’ve got to get the word out about what you do. What they say about you will ultimately determine the value of your brand.”


“The best way to approach utility is to give help first, and not ask for it. If there’s 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.”

“If a young person is going to get my help, and they haven’t even offered their help in return, then at minimum they should attempt to endear themselves to me. Tell me why you’re special. Tell me what we have in common. Express gratitude, excitement, and passion.

I read non-fiction and take copious notes