NETWORKING

Improve Your Networking Game With a 'People Plan'

Consultancy founder and bestselling author Keith Ferrazzi explains how building relationships based on generosity is the only way to find business success.
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To be successful in your chosen field you need to think about what you want to achieve and pinpoint who can help you achieve your goal, entrepreneur and author Keith Ferrazzi says. 

Ferrazzi, the founder of strategic consulting firm Ferrazzi Greenlight and bestselling author of Who's Got Your Back?, calls this type of networking strategy a "people plan."

"Relationships are crucial to our success, no matter what we want to achieve in our lives, whether it's to be president of the United States, the CEO of a company, [or] to right some social ill," Ferrazzi says in an interview with Adam Grant, a professor of management at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School

Once you figure out your goals and who can help make them a reality, follow the steps Ferrazzi outlines below to enhance your networking game.

Develop your "universal currency."

People are "too damn busy to spend any time with you" unless you "lead all relationships with generosity," Ferrazzi tells Grant on Knowledge@Wharton. So in order to connect with the people who will help you, you'll need to help them first by offering your "universal currency," or the characteristics that make people want to be around you. "Some people use wit. But I have to tell you that the leading indicator of whether you are the kind of person that people want to hang around is ... vulnerability," he says.

Serve your community, don't just sell to it.

The next way to build trust between you and other people is what Ferrazzi calls "professional currency," or delivering an extraordinary product by serving your customers. "In retrospect, I spent way too much time early on as an entrepreneur selling as opposed to generously serving. Once I started to generously serve, my product got better as an entrepreneur," he says. Once you can prove you're interested in serving, he says, more people will want to connect with you and trust your intentions at face value.

Understand others' values.

The third layer of a people plan, Ferrazzi says, is "personal currency," which shows the other person that you know who they are and "understand what the hell somebody cares about." "I have a 15-year-old foster son, and I'll spend time with anybody who wants to help the foster care system and is willing to put their money and their time behind it," he says. This layer is all about doing research to find out what makes the other person tick. Basically, you're saying: "I want to serve you in whatever way possible to make you a better person and more successful personally," he says.

IMAGE: Getty Images
Last updated: Feb 20, 2014

WILL YAKOWICZ | Staff Writer | Reporter, Inc.com

Will Yakowicz is a staff writer for Inc. magazine. He has covered business, crime, and local politics for The Brooklyn Paper and was the editor of Park Slope Patch. He has also reported in the West Bank and Moscow for Tablet Magazine. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.




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