There is a popular book on the net titled “Never Eat Alone” by Keith Ferrazzi. It can be described as the bible of tips and ways to become an uber-networker. Uber-networkers are the top level of super or extreme networks. If you’re familiar with the book, it’s pretty clear that author Keith Ferrazzi, who tells you how he’s related, is alone in a stratosphere. Part of this is the obvious financial opportunities he has to throw parties together with big names etc, but it’s pretty clear that the man doesn’t just relate when he’s “eating” but also when he walks, talks and God knows what else.

So what can make you an uber-networker?

Two simple (related) things.

The first is really getting to know and remember interesting points in another person’s life. Certainly the names of birthdays, spouses, and children are pretty minimal. But what does the person do in her free time? What about the quirks? Do you collect plastic ducks or flamingos? How do they vacation? Museums or Beaches? Do you like to read a good trashy novel when you are at the beach or are you worried about skin cancer? There are thousands of bits of information about a person’s makeup and interests. The more you know about them, the better you will understand them.

Now let’s not lurk. Going to networking events with a pen and pad of paper, lurking in groups that are talking and taking notes would not only be weird, but pretty scary! Think about natural conversations you have or enter into with people. Little details about a person’s interests are constantly being blurted out during the course of any conversation when they talk about sports, vacations, business, family life, etc. Figuring out how you are going to KEEP that information is something you need to figure out.

Again, taking out a pad and paper and scribbling or taking out your personal recorder and putting it up to your face would be a conversation hindrance, to say the least.

Here are some ways that might work:

  • Create a valid opportunity to write something. It may be to promise them information or to contact them. If you have his business card, even better. Write down the information “Call Joe tomorrow” on the back, but you can quickly write down that he just had a birthday, he’s a Bears fan, he likes Hummel figurines, he loves Coach bags, etc.
  • You’re done chatting, can you step away and discreetly record some of the information you collected? An appropriate way is if your cell phone has a recording element. So while it’s recording that data, it looks like you’re just making a call.
  • Go to the bathroom or go out for a cigarette. Write down the relevant information and come back.

The fundamental thing to obtain the information and retain it is tact and discretion. Do what comes naturally. So now that you have all this personal information, what do you do with it? This is the second thing you need to do to get a top network. Using what you have.

  • This is where you send the birthday card with a personal note, “Hi Suzy, I hope your birthday is great.” Or “I remember your birthday was close, can I buy you a lunch to celebrate?”
  • Email Frank about the awesome game last weekend (Frank’s favorite team)
  • Write Bob a note mentioning that you remember him liking the Hummel figurines and that you happened to see that they were having a show featuring them soon. Add the clipped article or web link.
  • Hi Nancy, I remember our great conversation at the last event where you were talking about the problems you had motivating your people and I came across this article/website/vendor, thought of you and passed it on to you.
  • Good morning Beth, I remember you saying you liked the (author’s name) books when you were going on vacation and I was at Barnes & Noble and there was a new one. He was asking me if you knew.

Etc. What you’re doing is raising the level of the relationship to maybe not a friend, but maybe a friendly acquaintance who is aware of what you’re up to in your lives (and isn’t it nice to know that people show genuine interest? ) and are making an effort to recognize and support that.

But again, it has to be natural. For example, you don’t have to pretend to be a Hummel figurine collector to mention that you saw the upcoming event and thought of Bob and his interest. In that case, you paid attention to his interest and conveyed information that supports his interest. But if you’re not a sports fan and you’re trying to look like one, it will sound fake and be pretty obvious. You can still walk up and say “Hey Frank, didn’t you say you’re a fan of Notre Dame and they’re doing pretty good this year?” It shows that you listened, but you don’t quite follow their team. And trust me; the fan will be more than happy to inform you.

A quick note on automation. We have a lot of processes available today where you get someone’s name and send out periodic newsletters about local happenings, general interest articles, etc. This is not bad. It keeps your name and organization on their minds, however, don’t confuse it with the force of personal touch, the “I was thinking of you” action. It is something that cannot be automated or falsified.

So these are the two things you have to do

  • Understand and collect information about people and their lives.
  • Do something about it. Build a relationship that shows you heard, remembered, and are interested in them and their lives.

You are creating a deeper and more meaningful relationship. You are exhibiting memorable consideration. And naturally it flows that they will want to support you in your business and your success. Think about it. Do something about it. Be honest and helpful in your dealings. And a new uber-networker will be born!