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Keith Ferazzi is described as the world’s foremost expert in professional relationship development. Forbes and INC. magazines have called him one of the world’s most “connected” individuals. Keith Ferazzi co-wrote the book “Never Eat Alone”, which has defined networking today.

The main idea is to make it a habit to purposefully connect with other people on a regular basis. Ferazzi explains “connecting” as a constant process of giving and receiving. You should ask for help and offer help at the same time. In his book, Ferazzi explains twenty steps of strategically connecting. We will focus on a few pointers here but you can also find a complete summary of the book here.

One major goal, as described in the book’s title, is to never eat alone. A great way to accomplish this is to take referral sources to breakfast or lunch once or twice a week. You should also invite local doctors, fellow lawyers, body shop owners, members of local business organizations, and other professionals from your community to meet with you. By doing so, you are creating and nurturing contacts, promoting your business, and building relationships in your community.

During these casual outings, get to know your guest personally. Ask them about their business, what their goals are, what do they wish to get out of your relationship and if there are any questions they need you to answer. Also, be sure to ask for referrals but do so in a mutually beneficial way – ask what you can do for them. You want to make it clear that you’re willing to help them as well. Ask how you can send them referrals, if they are having any problems with their business, how might you be able to help…these are all ways to “connect” and bring people into your network.

Lastly, be genuine! Demonstrate that you are truly interested in nurturing the relationship and you are there to help them. By doing so, you are offering your expertise at no cost to them. This will make them want to return the favor. Also, be sure to create a contact list that includes birthdays, anniversaries, favorite hobbies, wine, and so on and be sure to send out cards and gifts throughout the year to show your appreciation in the relationship, of course always acting in accordance with the rules and regulations of your State Bar.

Most importantly – stay in contact with your network – once you “connect” you MUST stay connected!

By following this concept, you will expand your business in your local community and enhance your reputation among other businesses in your area.

And always remember – Never Eat Alone…this one tip will get you off to a great start!