Never Eat Alone

On July 23, 2009, in Business School, by Jeremy C Wilson

Leading at a law firm or at a business today is dramatically different than it was many years ago.  The world is bigger, information travels through different channels, and organizations and processees are far more complex than they were before. So how can you still influence important decisions and shephard important deals in the midst of this complexity?  In my view, it all starts with building good relationships.

A colleague of mine recently recommended I read the book “Never Eat Alone” by Keith Ferrazzi. He recently gave it a read, and he told me that my style and background reminded him a lot of Keith.  I didn’t think too much of it at first, but trusted his opinion so figured it might be worth a shot. So I picked up the book about two weeks ago and just finished reading. It’s definitely a good read. It’s definitely relevant for those in the MBA world. And my colleague was definitely correct. I’ve found a number of things in common with Keith.

In the book, Keith lays out the specific steps he uses to connect and stay in contact with others—friends, colleagues, family, and associates. He basically sees the world around him as a place that should be based on generosity, where he helps friends and colleagues, and helps people connect with each other, rather than networking for personal gain.

I enjoy his approaches and theories about networking and also agree with the emphasis he places on it. But whether or not you agree with his philosophies, I think the topic is very relevant for all of us MBA applicants/admits/students. In MBA programs, students’ schedules are jam packed 7 days a week–studying for class, practicing cases, attending and planning events, meeting with professors, and the list goes on.  We will all interact with thousands of different people in a 2-year span. And if you’re on your game, this process begins well before we ever set foot in our first class.

As such, I think it’s important to think about what you want to get out of those interactions. Perhaps you want to run for a specific club leadership role or maybe student government. Perhaps, you want to meet everyone in a certain company or industry or maybe just find the right colleague who can prep us for a job interview. Perhaps you want to make sure you have a huge network after school or maybe even just have a really good time there. Maybe you want to do all of that. No matter what your goals are, making friends and contacts is an important part of school.

We don’t all have to be power networkers, but I think it’s important that we figure out how we want to balance our networking energies and schedules with everything else. And while most of us will have some preconceptions about our strategies going in, I suspect that we really don’t know yet, so it will be a lot of learning as we go. One thing I do know is that once my program begins, I don’t plan on eating alone too many times.

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7 Responses to “Never Eat Alone”

  1. Jeremy says:

    Yes definitely! Looking forward to it.

  2. D. G. says:

    Let's do lunch ;-)

  3. Kellogger says:

    Right on! What a great post. Business school would be much less valuable or rewarding without this mindset.

  4. About Me says:

    M!NU5–thanks for the insightful comment! And I agree, two great books!! I've read Getting to Yes and the other is still on my To Do list.

  5. M!NU5 says:

    Righteous post, and yes, you remind me a bit of Ferrazzi, too. Not in 100% agreement about the book itself… Amazon review.

    Agree with you that it is critical to be circumspect about how and with whom we choose to spend our time. It helps us be resilient in difficult interactions, while also helping us to prioritize the many claims upon our time.

    One of the trickiest challenges I've found is identifying activities I do resentfully out of a vague sense of obligation. After facing the fact I feel obliged and resentful, I've often found ways to reach a better outcome for both myself and other parties involved by understanding and advocating for my interests in a constructive way.

    If you haven't already, you may want to check out negotiation literature (i.e. Getting to Yes and Difficult Conversations) for more tips on defining and championing your interests… Provided you feel this is a valuable way to spend your time ;)

  6. Jeremy says:

    Thanks BB and let me know what you think of it. I'm going to send you an email about this too. Stay tuned.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Great post Jeremy! I'm going to add this book to my summer reading list!
    -Blanche

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