Saturday, March 24, 2007

Altimeter - Networking to Help Your Career Soar: Great Advice from Keith Ferrazzi

Man! I wish I had gotten to take advantage of this call, but this is the next best thing to an hour with Keith Ferrazzi! You should read it and take it to heart.

Great Advice from Keith Ferrazzi

Several years ago, a good friend of mine recommended to me Keith Ferrazzi’s book, “Never Eat Alone”. I read it and thought that contained a lot of really good career advice. I have also recommended his book in previous posts in this blog.

A couple of months ago, Keith Ferrazzi created a new career / life planning tool called “Life Coach Tool 1.0”, and sent out an email to some folks about it. I clicked on the link, watched the short video clip, and actually used the tool to plan out some of my major life’s goals, and how to achieve them. The tool also gave me good advice on how to overcome some potential obstacles.

After I used the tool, I learned that Keith Ferrazzi was running a competition. If I referred friends to use his free tool, the top 3 finishers will win a 1-hour coaching conversation with him. Thanks to everyone’s help, I was one of the top 3 finishers. The purpose of this blog is to summarize some of the great advice and suggestions that Keith gave me earlier today (my 1 hour coaching session with Keith).

Keith spent the first 15 minutes asking me about my background, and work and life experiences. He asked some good questions about various personal and work transitions I have made in my life. I mentioned that one of the major transitions I am about to make is that I will be relocating out to the Bay Area to take a management position with a leading technology company. Keith gave me some specific advice about how to be successful in my new company.

1) Re-read “Never Eat Alone”. Even though I read it many years ago, I agree that it’s time to re-read the book to get some good ideas about how to network successful with people at my new company.

2) Make a list of 20 people at my new company that I would like to get to know better. Some of these can be very senior executives, including the founders of the company.

3) For each of these people, evaluate my current relationship with them, from a scale of 0 to 5. 0 is someone I don’t know yet. 1 is someone who may be aware of me and vice versa. 2 is someone I have met. 3 is someone I have met a few times. 4 is a friend. 5 is a very good friend, and as Keith puts it, “is someone you can call at 3 o’clock in the morning”.

I mentioned that I tend to have a very large network through LinkedIn and Xing, but I have not had as much time as I would like to deepen those relationships. So I have a lot of people in my network I can classify as 1s, but not as many that I can classify as 4s or 5s. Keith suggested that to be truly successful, it’s vitally important to have a solid group of relationships that you can classify as 4s and 5s.

4) For each of the 20 people on the list, deepen the relationship every month. There are three types of interactions: Meetings, Events, and Pinging.

5) Meetings are getting together with someone 1-to-1 for breakfast, lunch or coffee. Events are group gatherings, such as if I invited a group of people over for dinner, or some other informal parties. Pinging is checking up with them once a month, via email or phone call. If the person won a prize or did something great, then send him or her an email congratulating them.

6) With every interaction, two of the goals are to gather more information about them and share information about yourself. The types of information to be exchanged are: business / work information, their cares and concerns, their personal lives, and what they are passionate about. For example, if you find out that one of the people on the list had a death in the family, and you can send your condolences.

7) Every quarter or six months, revise the list of 20 people and re-evaluate the strength of your relationship with them. Your goal is to keep deepening the average score of the relationships.

8) Since my long-term goal is to manage P&L at an established company, Keith suggested that many of the people in my list of 20 be senior executives at my new company who are managing P&L.

9) Senior executives may be willing to invest their time meeting with you if you demonstrate that you listen to their advice, act on it, and give back to others.

Keith mentioned that if I do what he suggested, then it’s a lot more likely that I will advance in my career ahead of just relying on my own hard work. He suggested that I really focus on networking with people at my new company for the next couple of years.

We also talked about work life balance, since I have a young daughter. Keith suggested that rather than seeing it as two separate spheres, a good approach is “blending”. For example, get to know other parents at my new company. Perhaps our kids can play together. Invite people over to your house for dinner. This way, you can spend time with your family and your colleagues. Don’t worry if your house is too small. People will just appreciate the fact that you’ve invited them.

10) Invest time and energy to develop your team and their leadership abilities so that they will also succeed in life. This is a good way to cultivate their loyalties to you, so that they will want to see you succeed as well. Keith even offered to sign autographed copies his book “Never Eat Alone” to my direct reports, so that they can improve their networking skills.

Another area of our discussion was about my Christian faith, and how I wanted to integrate that into my work / life balance. Keith gave me another example of “blending”, which is that I find other Christians at my new company, and see which churches they attend. Perhaps I can visit some of their churches when I get to the Bay Area. So, when I do visit a church, I can find out if any of the other members at that church work at my company. Basically, the idea of “blending” is to combine my personal interests and passions with some of my colleagues, which should help me to acclimate quickly into my new company.

Keith was very gracious with his time, and also offered to stay in touch, and follow up on my progress in taking his suggestions. He also offered to introduce me to a senior level executive at my new company once I start my new role. Overall, I found my one hour conversation with Keith to be very helpful, and filled with very concrete and actionable items. If you still haven’t read his book, “Never Eat Alone”, I would highly recommend it.

Regards,

-Josh Li
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