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Book Summary – Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time

Never Eat Alone - Book summary

Relationships are a crucial part of both our professional and personal lives. They can open doors and bring success and fulfillment that you couldn’t achieve on your own. In Never Eat Alone, Keith Ferrazzi explains why you should make relationship-building a way of life, and how to build your personal network and brand. In our free Never Eat Alone summary, we’ll outline these key ideas in 4 sections.

An Overview of Never Eat Alone: Join the Club

To succeed, you can’t rely on hard work and talent alone—you also need others’ help and support. The rich get richer not just because of their financial resources, but because they have well-connected friends and associates who share valuable advice and open doors to the right people and opportunities. It’s like being part of a privileged club.

It’s never too late to join the club by cultivating the right relationships in the right way. By seeking the help and advice of successful people, building his relationship skills and network, Ferrazzi became the Chief Marketing Offer (CMO) at Deloitte & Touche Consulting, the youngest-ever CMO at Starwood Hotel & Resorts, then the CEO of Yaya Media, before starting his own company. In this book, he shares the insights accumulated from more than 2 decades of relationship-building. By applying these strategies and tips, you too can become a highly-accomplished connector.

In this article, we’ll explain the correct mindset behind proper networking, with a brief outline of the remaining 3 sections. Do get a copy of our complete 16-page Never Eat Alone summary for more detailed tips and examples.

Adopt the Right Mindset

Networking has a bad connotation because of people who build relationships just to exploit them. The key to successful networking is to add value to help others to succeed.

Never Eat Alone summary_Mindset

Don’t keep score

Connecting is a two-way process of giving and receiving. Contribute generously to others and be willing to ask for others’ help. Adopt the philosophy that everyone has the potential to help and be helped.

When someone asks you for a small favor, just do it. Relationships are like muscles that grow stronger with regular use. The more people you help, the more people will help you and one another, to create a multiplier effect.

In every interaction, ask “How can I help you?” instead of “How can you help me?” Don’t keep score. Keep giving your time, money or expertise, and you’ll eventually be rewarded.

Be generous to everyone. Things move in cycles and you never know when you’ll be the one who needs help. Someone who’s insignificant today can very well become influential tomorrow.

Crystallize your mission and strategy

It’s always easier to achieve something with a proper goal and strategy. Use 3 steps to make relationship-building a part of your strategy.

  • Take time to figure what you truly want to do. Find your “Blue Flame” which lies the intersection of your mission, passion, and ability.
    (i) Look inward. Brainstorm a list of your dreams and goals, followed by a list of things that bring you joy/pleasure. Then, connect the 2 lists to look for intersections.
    (ii) Look outward: ask people who know you well what they admire most about you (your strengths) and what areas you need help in (your weaknesses).
  • Fill in the Networking Action Plan (NAP) to identify how to acquire the required skills, tools and resources. Put your goals down in writing. Keep them specific, believable, and challenging. Share your goals and put your plan somewhere visible.
    (i) Define the interim goals (in 3 months, 1 year and 3 years) that’d bring you toward your mission.
    (ii) List down the people, places, and things you’d need.
    (iii) Assess the best strategies to acquire them.
  • Create a personal “Board of Advisors” to help you stay on-track. At one point, Ferrazzi’s goal was to be a CEO of a big corporation. After filling out his NAP, he sought inputs from his board. They pointed out that he lacked the qualifications to be the CEO of a large corporation, and he should go for a smaller company he could grow with. Ferrazzi redirected his focus and soon found an ideal role as the CEO of YaYa—a company that was pioneering online games as an advertising platform.

Build it before you need it

Relationships take time to build. It’ll be too late to start building your network only when you need for it, e.g. when you lose your job or start a business.

In our full version of the Never Eat Alone summary, we’ll share (i) more ideas on where/how to start building your community now, and (ii) how not to be a networking jerk.

Have the courage to ask

To build a network, you must be audacious enough to put yourself out there and risk rejection. The good news is, people are often willing to help and even feel glad for the chance to contribute! Overcome your fears and commit to improve your relationship-building skills.

Develop the Required Skills

Obviously, to become a great connector, you need to develop certain skillsets. The key is to be intentional about who you meet, how you meet them, and the impression you create.  Keith Ferrazzi covers numerous networking skillsets with specific tips and examples on how to nurture and practice them. In our Never Eat Alone summary, we’ve consolidated/organized them into these key sections. Do get the full 16-page summary for more details.

Never Eat Alone summary_Skillsets

Here’s a brief outline of what each skillset entails (with more steps/tips covered in our full summary):

  •  Do your homework: From your Networking Action Plan, develop your name list of specific people who can help you achieve your mission and short/mid term goals. Always Always prepare before a meeting.
  • Approaching new contacts: Learn how to warm up cold leads in advance (do not make cold calls) and manage gatekeepers artfully.
  • Be visible. Learn how to fill your social/events calendar with meaningful, productive events and share your passions.
  • Follow up consistently.
  • Master the art of small talk, with the goal of starting a conversation, engaging the other person and leaving with them with a deep liking for you.
  • Become a conference commando. Don’t attend conferences to listen to the speakers or sell your products. Your goal for conferences should be to meet like-minded people who can advance your mission. Get them to like you and set up follow-up discussions after the conference. Learn the tips to get the most from conferences you attend.
  • Expand your social circle. Learn how to connect with the super-connectors and link your circle with someone else’s.

Convert Connections Into Compatriots

Create an emotional impact thru’ health, wealth & children

Building an initial connection isn’t enough. You must deliberately nurture your connections to convert them into true friends and compatriots.  In our complete version of the Never Eat Alone summary, we’ll elaborate on:

  •  Why health, wealth and children are 3 of the most impactful ways to help people;
  • How to use social arbitrage to become indispensable to others.
  • Why/how to ping people constantly.
  • How to expand into new social circles via “anchor tenants“.

Trade Up and Give Back

Keep connecting upward to more successful people, while reaching down to help others. This involves:

  • Developing an interesting, unique point of view with specialized knowledge that others lack, so you can stand out.
  • Building and broadcasting your personal brand via 3 steps (including having a PR strategy).
  • Reaching out to important people and getting close to power.
  • Continually finding mentors and mentees.

Getting the Most from Never Eat Alone

In this article, we’ve briefly outlined some of the key insights and strategies you can use to achieve desired change. For more examples, details, and actionable tips to apply these strategies, do get our complete book summary bundle which includes an infographic, 16-page text summary, and a 24-minute audio summary.Never Eat Alone summary - book summary bundle

This is a practical guidebook for becoming a great connector. For each of the insights captured in our summary, the book also includes other useful tips, ranging from how to host a great party to lines you can use in your interactions. Ferrazzi also includes many examples from his personal experience, with short profile stories of notable relationship-builders such as Bill Clinton, Katharine Graham and Dale Carnegie.  You can purchase the book here for the full details, or check out more resources/details at

For more from Keith Ferrazzi, check out our summary on Leading Without Authority!

About the Author of Never Eat Alone

Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time is written by Keith Ferrazzi–an American author and entrepreneur. He’s the founder and CEO of research and consulting firm Ferrazzi Greenlight. After graduating from Yale University and Harvard Business School, Ferrazzi joined Deloitte as an entry level analyst and rose to become the chief marketing officer (CMO). At 32, he became Starwood Hotels’ CMO—the youngest Fortune 500 CMO at that time. In 2000, he became the CEO of YaYa Media, which was later sold to American Vantage in 2003.

Never Eat Alone Quotes

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

“Most people…accept what they ‘should’ be doing, rather than take the time to figure out what they want to be doing.”

“A goal is a dream with a deadline.”

“The law of probability ensures that the more new people you know, the more opportunities will come your way and the more help you’ll get at critical junctures in your career.”

“Find a way to become part of those things that are of most interest to [people], and you will have found a way to become part of their life.”

Click here to download the Never Eat Alone summary & infographic

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