With 2014 behind us and 2015 underway, many people pause to reflect on their personal and professional lives. People have become more and more reliant on the networks to reach their personal and professional goals, but there are right and wrong ways to approach things. Here are a few books that may prove helpful as you reflect on your objectives for the year ahead and beyond.
Pull: Networking and Success since Benjamin Franklin
Before we look at books discussing more current thinking on networking, it is worth looking at the history of how business relationships developed and the importance of social capital. The book examines success stories from Benjamin Franklin to Andrew Carnegie to Bill Gates to reveal the importance of access to the networks of influence that control and distribute opportunity and information. While personality, upbringing, and social skills are important, being given access to influential networks and information are even more important. This book examines how personal networks worked, and information flowed in a pre-technology era but the fundamentals remain the same.
Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success
A book praised by Amazon, the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal, Oprah, Fortune, and the Washington Post, shows how people can succeed by giving more than they take. BNI’s philosophy is “Givers gain” and this book perfectly aligns with that belief. People often get hung up on what they stand to gain and not what help they can offer. They focus on WIIFM - “What’s in it for me?!” - When they should be thinking about what’s in it for the other person. This book is a needed reminder of what is important.
Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time
Who would have thought the way to start a networking relationship would be to be vulnerable? That is one of the key factors that Keith Ferrazzi discusses in the book. He argues that deep relationships come from being vulnerable or human with people. It is not about posturing nor is about crying on someone’s shoulder. It’s about sharing your goals but also, and more importantly, sharing your challenges. If you share where you are struggling, you will be amazed by the willingness of others to help. While this may seem awkward, or you would be reluctant to be vulnerable, Ferrazzi shares his experiences and the rich relationships he developed by being open, human, and vulnerable.
To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others
While the other books have focused on networks, networking, and relationships, To Sell Is Human focuses on dispelling the myth that only salespeople sell. Daniel Pink, the author, explains that we all sell in one way or another. We sell who we are, what we do, and what our product or service has to offer. Many people dismiss the idea that they are salespeople or that they sell. We sell ourselves to land a job, a contract, a date, or even a spouse. We may not see it that way, but we are often subtly or overtly selling something. It is not that selling is a dirty word. It is more about the fact that we are always selling to some degree. Maybe you will feel more comfortable if you think of it as conveying value and not selling. Regardless, there is no shame in it, and Pink shares a number of stories and anecdotes to prove it.
Let us know what you think of these books or if you have other recommendations about networking and business relationships. If you have other books that you would recommend, then we welcome your suggestions. Good luck and good reading!