Welcome to the first installment of The Speakers Group’s new interview series titled “In the Spotlight.” We’ll be featuring Q&A sessions with a variety of in-demand business speakers and gurus, along with some up-and-coming thought leaders with equally valuable expertise and content.
To kick things we off, we have Keith Ferrazzi, author of the bestseller, Never Eat Alone, in the spotlight. Keith is renowned authority on building relationships, and he shared some great insights with us in our interview. Following is part one of two.
TSG: For starters, let me ask about the title of your book, Never Eat Alone. Having read the book, I know exactly where the title comes from, but has anyone ever mistaken you for a nutritionist or a health guru because of it? It kind of sounds like it could hold the key to losing 20 pounds.
Ferrazzi: People more often mistake the book for a book on dating than anything else…
TSG: And I’m guessing that it’s also mistakenly labeled a book on networking, a word that you’ve said you hate. You’re quick to point out that you’re not a networking expert. Tell us about your aversion to the word networking, and about the true emphasis of your work.
Ferrazzi: Networking often has a negative connotation to it. People think it’s disingenuous and tactical, all about “what can you do for me?” What I talk about is approaching people in the spirit of “What can I do for you?” It’s relationship building, interacting with personal and professional contacts alike on a much deeper level than most people are accustomed to. That’s the kind of relationship that delivers the greatest success. That’s core of what I practice and teach in Never Eat Alone.
TSG: Talking about relationships might sound a little “soft” or touchy-feely for some in the business world, but you have a keynote presentation titled “Relationships for Revenue Growth.” Where do relationships and revenue growth intersect?
Ferrazzi: With increasing commoditization of products coupled with costs pressures, the depth of the relationship with the customer is one of the only differentiators that gets you through the door and keeps you there these days when you’re in a client-facing role.
It’s the power of relationships that can help you grow your company’s success – whether by connecting with new markets, developing new products, or increasing productivity. Having great products isn’t enough anymore on its own. You also need the ability to bring unique value to the relationships you have with your clients, beyond the business transaction.
TSG: We’ve talked about relationships… Let’s go one step further to intimacy – something you talk a lot about. What do you say to someone who has a more standoffish nature and may be afraid of crossing the line of inappropriateness in business relationships?
Ferrazzi: I fundamentally believe business relationships should also be personal ones. The most powerful relationships – the ones that create results – are ones where you are able to have a personal connection or bridge with the individual. Otherwise you’re just conducting transactions, like a machine. There’s no trust there. One of the core principles to a great relationship is intimacy. When someone’s standoffish it usually means they’ve had experiences in their past that’s made them distrustful. So be patient, set the example by opening up a little, draw them out slowly – and when you do win them over, you’ll have a friend for life.
TSG: You have something you call a Relationship Action Plan. What is that?
Ferrazzi: A Relationship Action Plan is a tactical and strategic guide to empower a person to take control of their careers through mutually beneficial relationships. It involves identifying and building relationships with people who can help achieve career and life goals, building and broadcasting unique personal brands to stand out in the crowded marketplace, lining up friends to help, approaching and engaging mentors, and finally, creating a dynamic personal board of advisors.
TSG: And if a professional adopts your relationship management strategies, what are the potential benefits he or she might expect?
Ferrazzi: Faster progress toward goals, a bar for success that is constantly raised higher and higher, increased employee loyalty, productivity and retention, growth in the client base, growth in revenue, faster course correction thanks to rich mutual support – I could go on and on. And on another level, the reward is overall greater life happiness. Being yourself and having in-depth relationships in your professional life means work is a lot more fun. And that happiness circles directly back to success – when work is fun, you and everyone you work with is going to be a lot more committed. It’s infectious.
TSG: What if an entire organization promotes your relationship management strategies throughout all of their teams or at least their leaders – what kind of results might they expect?
Ferrazzi: All the benefits above, multiplied exponentially.
TSG: Another system you teach is Executive Relationship Management. Can you explain that a bit?
Ferrazzi: ERM guides senior executives in developing an actionable plan to increase the stature and success of their firm by strengthening relationships with its most important constituencies – customers, prospects, partners, influencers, and employees. Clients find answers to questions such as: Where do I find the time for outreach? Who to start with? How can I make a meaningful connection?
TSG: The economy is a little slower right now, and a lot of attention is focused on the bottom line – cutting costs, increasing sales, etc. It may not seem like the ideal time to talk about relationships, but you say it’s the perfect time to talk about relationships… why is that?
To be continued…
Cliffhanger! Check back one week from today, on Tuesday, August 5, for part two of our interview with Keith Ferrazzi. We’ll learn more about relationships, and we’ll also ask Keith about what keeps him pressing on, what he’s reading, what we can expect from him in the future, and more.
More information about Keith Ferrazzi is available from The Speakers Group.