Never Eat Alone – Book Summary

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Eating alone. You know you’re doing it too much when you start talking to your steak. And hear it answer back.

never eat alone summaryNever Eat Alone is a sweet mixture of manipulation technics for bombastic networking addicts and actually useful actionable & inspiring tips.

But see, the former might be the Redbull in your vodka. You don’t like it but still, you”ll have it to keep on going. In Never Eat Alone, the bull-ball made soda consists of a series of disguised commonplaces about networking at actual events. Trade your business cards like you were trading Pogs in 3rd grade. Smile and show off your scissor-shaped bright teeth. Master the art of jumping from one guest to the other, as if you were a worker in a medieval Game-of-Thrones brothel.

Now, let’s get to the vodka part. Keith Ferrazzi gives nice tips about the art of outreach & personal branding. Here are a few take-aways that I thought worthy of mention.

How to cold call / email

So that you don’t sound like a calling center operator located on a different timezone, here are a few rules to abide by:

  1. Convey credibility: drop familiar / famous names and institutions. “Hello Sir. I’m Maria’s kid. And your son.”
  2. State a clear value proposition: what can you do for the person you’re calling? Not the other way around. “I’ll take care of you in your old age.”
  3. Urgency & convenience: try to find a call to action that creates a sense of urgency. But offer various options to meet. “I’m right behind your door. Should we meet in the hallway or can I come in?”
  4. Compromise: be flexible, and offer a way out to the person. “I can come back. I know where you live.”

Emails are slightly different:

  1. The subject line is key: make it compelling. Appeal to utility or to curiosity.
  2. Timing: send your email early in the morning, at lunch or after work, to avoid being drowned in your recipient’s inbox.
  3. Be brief.
  4. Have a clear call to action: what do you want the other to do? State it clearly.
  5. Read out loud and check spelling. Please.

On building relationships

  • Follow up. When you know that 80% of the deals are signed after a 5th follow-up, you understand how important that could be. Follow up.
  • Small talk doesn’t have to be boring. Just be yourself and share your points of view. Unless you’re a psychopath. In that case, talk about the weather.
  • You want people to listen? Health, wealth & their children will grab anyone’s attention.
  • Pinging. Try to stay in touch directly with your close network at least once a month.

personal branding in the digital age

Me Inc.
Gingers can do it too.

The end of the book really spoke to me. Nowadays, you are what you put out there. Welcome to Me Inc.

Building trust

Here is the author’s formula to build trust online:

Generosity + Vulnerability + Accountability + Candor = Trust

  1. Generosity: the more you give and share, the more you get. In the age of abundance, it’s not a zero-sum game anymore. Give, give a lot, and thou shall receive.
  2. Vulnerability: don’t post moments where you only look great and successful. We can’t be fooled anymore.
  3. Accountability: be consistent and post often.
  4. Candor: or authenticity. Share your point of view. Don’t be half-assed. If you talk vanilla and sound “like a pro”, you lose impact. The thank you economy is wreaking havoc. Be on the good side of the force.

Become an expert

Keith advises to build a niche for yourself, read everything you can and meet the influencers in that niche. Also, don’t be afraid to ask stupid questions. And while you’re at it, even start your own association.

Now let’s be honest, I don’t think that will make you an expert in anything. Developing an expertise takes deliberate practice, trial & error, feedback. It takes experience. A lot of it.

But you don’t need to wait 10,000 hours to have a say in something. Start gaining traction, and appearing like an expert certainly helps. That reminded me of Tim Ferriss’s approach to “becoming” an expert:

  • join 2 or 3 related trade organizations
  • read the 3 top selling books in your niche
  • give one free 1-to-3-hour seminar at the closest well-known university
  • give 2 free seminars at branches of well-known companies such as IBM
  • offer to write 1 or 2 articles for trade magazines
  • join ProfNet or HARO — services that journalists use to find experts to quote for articles

Build & broadcast your brand

Whatever you think of yourself, if you don’t go public with it, you don’t exist. Don’t take my word for it.

“Everyone sees what you appear to be, few experience what you really are.” – Machiavelli

Find your tone, experiment, play with it. But don’t forget to market the marketing. In order to successfully broadcast your brand:

  • pop the bubble: stand out in people’s overcrowded newsfeed by using impactful visuals, having an angle / voice (don’t be vanilla: no emotion, no motion. Provoque anger, joy, arousal, whatever you want. Otherwise you won’t get shared), and curating amazing content.
  • manipulate the media: embrace storytelling and feed your story to bloggers & journalists while adding a sense of urgency. Why is your story important now? That reminded me of Ryan Holiday’s media strategy in Trust me I’m lying.


Work & personal life balance is B.S.

The book ends on a note about how outdated a balanced work / personal life now is.

If you’re going to build Me Inc, and bet on yourself, I couldn’t agree more. If you’re running away from your dream life in a job that doesn’t fulfill you, for the sake of a so-called security, then I understand why you’re seeking “leisure time”.

But work can and should be extraordinary. Work can be fun. Work can be leisure. If you don’t find joy in what you do, just stop it, and try something else. Work represents a third of your lifetime. For those who think we only have one life, that’s a lot to give up for a feeling of security. You want security? Buy a fire extinguisher. But please, take care of yourself. Maybe time has come to wake up.

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