With a little help from your (three) friends

Keith Ferrazzi is considered the greatest networking guru in the US. He shares some of his insights with Globes - why developing social contacts is easier than learning to play piano, and where to find the people to watch your back.

Keith Ferrazzi is considered the greatest networking guru in the US. Thanks to an uncanny ability to manage relationships with people, Ferrazzi, author of Never Eat Alone and Whos Got Your Back?, developed a network of ties that stretches from the hallways of power in Washington to Hollywoods major league stars.

Cranes Business magazine included him on its list of 40 most influential people under 40, and he was picked as a "Global Leader of Tomorrow" by the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Ferrazzi will visit Israel in December to speak at the Globes Israel Business Conference.

The Globes Israel Business Conference will be held on December 13-14 at the David Intercontinental Hotel in Tel Aviv.

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He established his consulting company, Ferrazzi Greenlight, a leader in the field of strategic relationship management.

What is Ferrazzis secret? What led magazines Inc. and Forbes to call him one of the worlds most connected individuals? Part of Ferrazzis secret of success is the deep understanding of networking. He encourages people to bring the same passion that they use in their personal relationships to professional ones.

In an interview with Globes, Ferrazzi, with great patience (one of the qualities that characterize him), tries again to explain how he became a one-person networking super power.

I want to take you back to a moment 70,000 years back, to a time when the human race was divided into small tribes with no contact between them. Already then, our tribal, social behavior was buried deep within our DNA. People never lived alone. What changed since then? A lot and not anything. Today our society is industrial, technological, advanced but still, at its base, what powers all this are the personal relationships between people.

Nonetheless, we are in the age of the Internet. People are conducting business and closing big deals online, often without knowing what the other party looks or sounds like.

Listen, if you want to limit all your business relationships to online relationships alone, you will survive in business, but not necessarily succeed. Even dedicated Internet people know this. Take, for example, Yossi Vardi (ICQ founder U.R.G.) a good friend whom I know well. He is a people person, he creates contacts, he is a very warm person, in business as well, and I am certain that it has been part of the secret of his success.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is also a social person, a people person. He created his whole huge empire, which is all on the Internet, from social contacts with people. Obviously you need a good idea, and you need development and technology. But you cant get anywhere without a good personal connection, even in business.

With how many people is it possible to maintain such a close personal/business relationship?

In my book I say that the beginning of all networks of contacts, whether personal or business, is built on three close people who are important to you, that you can rely on, that you want to be in contact with.

I get the impression that your contacts came mostly from your natural talent to connect with people. What about people whose social talents are less developed, who, while maybe not lone wolves are not necessarily people persons? According to your theory, they wont get too far.

Youll be amazed, but you can learn everything. You can learn to play piano, even if you have no sense of music, and you can learn to develop social connections even if you think that you dont have talents in this area. In effect, it's much easier than piano, because like I said, this quality is etched in our DNA.

Even today, in the age of the global economy, the world is still divided into tribes?

In a certain sense, yes. For example, there is the Israel tribe and there is the America tribe. On one hand they are different, but on the other hand, on a basic level, they have many things in common. Today obviously its possible to connect two tribes, something that didnt exist beforehand, because of a lack of technology in transportation and communication.

Lets talk a bit about the tribe Israel. What are we not doing right, that our image in the world is so low?

I cant honestly say that I completely understand the politics in your region, but also in relation to Israel and the world I think that the key is people. If you look at the important changes that have occurred in the world, it all began with people. Take, for example, the US and the Soviets. There are those who will say the borders were breached because of external events, perestroika and the death of communism. But I believe that a large part of it came from the interpersonal abilities of Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, who led the two superpowers at the time. The two shared communication that was more than regular politics. It was felt, and it found expression. Also during World War II, what in the end caused the creation of the front against Germany was the unique relationship between Roosevelt and Churchill. It was a relationship between leaders that had a dramatic influence on events that became historic.

In Israel, too, I think that people, the leadership, are the key to change. Trust is the most basic quality in a relationship. If there is trust between people, firstly among leaders, as has happened in the past in Israel as well, it will completely change the political and social picture completely. People speak about territory and land, but the problem begins in that people speak but dont trust each other.

Ferrazzis latest book, Whos Got Your Back? was published in May. The book instructs readers how to overcome limiting behaviors, to avoid mediocrity, and how to realize their greatest potential by active cultivation of a close mutual support circle. Ferrazzi is not talking only about positive reinforcement, but also about people who have the permission and support to shake us up when we need it.

The book focuses on several types of relationships that have the greatest influence on who you are, on who you will be, and on what type of life and success you create for yourself and your community, explains Ferrazzi. These are what I call life preserver relationships an inner circle of good and deep friendships, and relationships with friends who will do anything for you, just so you dont fail.

The timing of the books publication must be no coincidence. Do we need someone to watch our back more during a recession?

Today, more than ever, with a problematic economic situation, we need the feedback, support, and responsibility that exist in a few of our close and deep relationships in our private and professional lives the type that you can rely on in good times and bad.

Do you feel that people have lost their support in the race of modern life?

Most of the people that I interviewed told me that they are not able to name anyone that really watches over them. In 1985, the average American had three people to whom he could tell his secrets with complete confidence. The number has fallen today to two, and a quarter of Americans say that they dont even have one person to whom they can tell a secret.

According to Ferrazzi, We are hungry for support. We are hungry for meaning and community. We are hungry for answers to the question of how to reach personal and professional fulfillment. We ask questions that our parents generation didnt ask, or at least werent encouraged to ask. The answers today are different for different people.

How do we find the people who will watch our back?

These people are found around us all the time. Obviously there is a filtering process, but it all begins with the decision to recognize the fact that people that surround us are people with insight, that we care about them and that they probably care about us.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on November 19, 2009

Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2009

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