Moms-We’re lucky if we eat warm food, let alone eat alone. Here’s why that may be a good thing!
Since I’m home with an infant the majority of my time these days, I find a certain amount of comfort in reading books written by adults. I do love me some good Dr. Seuss and have already started reading it to my girl. However, when I’m wandering around the pages of a good, made-for-adults book, it’s like I’m getting more adult conversation than I actually am.
A recent “conversation” I had was with Mr. Keith Ferrazzi through “Never Eat Alone: and Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time.”
I would not hesitate to label this book the Bible of networking skills. It is clear that Mr. Ferrazzi has a passion and talent for networking. This is obviously relevant to someone’s career, but for moms provides a dual benefit to both the workplace and the home. The following are just a few of the many tips that I walked away with from this read.
Put People First– Do you ever feel torn between housework, work, your kids, your friendships, and a zillion other to-dos on your to-do list? Ferrazzi urges everyone to implement an important lesson. The sooner this lesson is learned, the more colleagues you will add to your network:
Deadlines second, people first.
Additionally, Ferrazzi reminds us of a simple lesson that your mom would be proud if you followed- respect everyone, not just the bigwigs. He highlights the importance in the business world of respecting the ‘gatekeeper’ or administrative/executive assistants for people who have those. For moms this may translate respecting other moms or people who may be down a rung or two on the social ladder.
Don’t Be Afraid to Have an Opinion– Ferrazzi dubs this section as “Be Interesting.” Often (especially in Minnesota!), we sugarcoat our opinion or don’t speak out loud about our accomplishments. As long as these conversational tinders are couched in respect and humility, they are the neccessary fuel to keep the relational flame burning. If you do not have anything interesting to say, the small talk will end at “what do you do?” and “here is my card.” Another great question to ask yourself, would you want to invite yourself to a lunch date? I found that this is especially true for young professionals. Once you can get past the initial self-talk that tells you that you do not have as much experience of others in the room and believe that your opinion matters, you find that your voice (as a young person and/or as a woman) brings new insights to the conversation that will not be there if you do not share. Check out this article for more on women and the need to speak up- In Business, Act Like a Gentleman, Behave Like a Lady)
Practical Tips– Some of the advice is just practical information that is great to know. For instance, Thursdays are a great night for dinner parties. Remember birthdays. Call people. Email people. Write people. Ferrazzi calls this “pinging.” Present yourself well and always, always remember names (so. hard. to. do!).
Conference Fishing– I’ve seen it work and it definitely has power. Being involved at large events whether that is the P.T.A., a conference, or even a kid’s birthday party, offers moms and professionals the opportunity to meet new people. The process is simple- know who’s coming, identify the people you’d like to meet and/or bump into, be sincere in your conversation, and secure their intention to meet again, preferrably in person. The last and most important step to conference fishing is to follow-up. Immediately. Don’t wait a day or two. Send a follow-up note, email, or card immediately. One conference caution that I appreciated the most is don’t act like you’re actually there for the agenda; be there for the people.
Although I highly recommend Never Eat Alone as a primer for those looking to make the most of relationships and stay connected despite a busy schedule, one point in which I disagreed with Mr. Ferrazzi was a chapter about work-life balance. He states that balance is not something that one should strive to find because as he treats his business relationships with the amount of sincerity as his family relationships he could “spend my birthday at a business conference and be surrounded with warmth and wonderful friends or I could be at home with equally close friends to celebrate (pg. 287).” While I appreciate what he is trying to say and the level to which he is trying to bring his professional relationships, I wonder if (hypothetically) a significant other and/or children would feel happy about him being gone on special days. On the flip side, a point I particularly enjoyed in the same chapter was the idea that we all need more “refigerator rights relationships”- friends who can walk into your home and feel comfortable digging through the fridge. In our ever digitally-connected-age, it is easy to lose the art of personal and close relationships IRL (In Real Life).
Mr. Ferrazzi eloquently instructs the reader on the art of networking in Never Eat Alone- do you have any relationship building tips that you have found to be important in your life- whether with other moms, your spouse, or your kids?