Forget the Business Cards and Collect Real Relationships

Forget the Business Cards and Collect Real Relationships

I pinched myself to make sure that I wasn’t actually under the covers of my bed.


Okay, so it was real. There I was, on the third terrace level, surrounded by passionate millennial entrepreneurs, at the very top of the West Hollywood Hills. The bird’s eye view of the city was breathtaking. It was really happening.

His first book, Never Eat Alone, inspired me to not only grow my network, but also improve the quality of those people in my network. I did this by caring about them, being curious about them, and building relationships with them.

His second book, Who’s Got Your Back, motivated me to find and build three lifeline relationships with individuals whom I respect. I met with them weekly as they helped keep me on track towards my goals.

I thought it would be great if I could hear him speak sometime, or, better yet, even meet him, but I didn’t realize it would actually happen. But it was happening, at his house, on the top of a West Hollywood hill overlooking LA at dusk on a Thursday night.

With a firm handshake and an honest smile, I officially met the one and only Keith Ferrazzi.

If Keith Ferrazzi is not on your radar, turn up the squelch, and get the channel nice and clear. And if you have not yet read his two New York Times best-selling books, Never Eat Alone and Who’s Got Your Back, you need to download the audio-books or grab paper copies.

Invest in the time to hear his stories and what he has learned along the way. He has such fascinating anecdotes, all based on experience, all leading to such valuable insight.

Famous for his dinner parties that focus on building relationships, Keith helped facilitate an intimate dinner gathering at his house for millennial entrepreneurs from around the world.

Organized and hosted by two amazing individuals, Jacobo Peleteiro and Dani Van de Sande, the night was a blend of individuals who are all trying to make a difference in the world.

There were writers, artists, models, programmers, engineers, developers and those deep in the investment world in attendance for an intimate gathering.

Unlike the typical networking event, the hosts asked everyone to focus on how they can help each other.

This simple flip on the typical gathering made the event have greater impact for all. The focus was understanding the reasons why people attended and the ways we could help each other, as opposed to the usual gathering of a bunch of business cards and leaving the party with superficial relationships.

At dinner, each plate had a different number corresponding to a different table, forcing everyone to split up into random groups to spark more connections. At each of the dinner groups, people shared both their personal and professional updates (One of Keith’s tips to really learning about people).

It was incredible to hear both the success and struggles of individuals. It allowed everyone to get to know each other on a deeper level in a shorter amount time.

In his books, Keith discusses a number of networking principles, concepts, and takeaways. I will highlight three that I feel are crucial takeaways, and enjoyed seeing them in action at the dinner party.

1. Be curious:

It’s one thing to be at an event trying to gather as many business cards as possible. It’s an entirely different thing to invest time and energy to be curious in order to dig deeper than just surface level interactions and relationships with strangers.

The individuals at the dinner party I met seemed genuinely curious to learn more about me on both a personal and professional level.

Curiosity allows you to dig down and discover people’s passions, motivations, and inspirations.

2. Be honest about what’s not working.

There seems to be a tendency to want to highlight the good things and focus on your recent successes. This approach creates a barrier between you and this new contact. The more honest and upfront you are with sharing your personal and professional challenges, the more opportunities will open up for those who are you are meeting to see if they can help in some way, shape or form.

Now, that doesn’t mean you should unload everything that has gone wrong when you first meet someone. It means that if you are facing certain challenges professionally or personally, weave them into the conversation so that you are giving an honest update about what is and isn’t working for you at the moment.

3. Maintain a service mindset

The service mindset directly correlates with the concept of trying to help people, which in turn creates a pay it forward mentality and yields its payout in gold. Sometimes, however, service means being open to other people helping you out. As an entrepreneur, you are more likely to be the type of person to take charge and run full speed ahead than someone who sits in the corner with your handout waiting for a freebie.

For Ferrazzi, his success was largely based on the people around him who helped him out along the way. For those who helped him, it was a service that they were sharing. He had to recognize that they wanted to help him and his form of service was allowing them to help.

So when you maintain a service mindset, focus on what you can do to help people, but don’t forget to be open to letting people help you.

I met so many other individuals that night who have been positively influenced by Keith Ferrazzi’s work. I encourage you to be curious, be honest, and maintain a service mindset when you attend your next networking event, and work to build and then nurture what could prove to be long-lasting, highly beneficial relationships.

#BeCurious #BeHonest #ServiceMindset

What are some other ways to help build relationships. Comment below.