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Networking Secret #1: You Can't Get There Alone

Networking Secret #1: You Can't Get There Alone

For each and every thing you want to achieve in life -- whether it's landing a job, earning a raise or promotion or finding lifelong romance -- there will be at least one person on the other end deciding whether you will achieve it and probably more than one person contributing to your cause. Everything we do can only be accomplished through and with other people. And since success of any kind requires relationships, the first thing you must realize is that you can't get there alone.

I started at the bottom, born the son of a steelworker and a cleaning lady in rural southwestern Pennsylvania. As a kid, I carried the golf bags of the local rich and famous as a caddy at the Latrobe Country Club. While the job didn't pay much, the lessons I learned there have proven to be more valuable than gold.

I discovered that there really was an old boys' and girls' network. This network helped wealthy kids get the great internships, helped friends get interviews for prime jobs and lent money to start businesses. There was no end to the offers extended and favors accepted at that golf course. You could just tell that each member wanted to help all the other members be more successful. Some caddies saw this culture of generosity and were content as voyeurs, watching from the outside. Not me.

The Path to Success

For me, the path to success was as clear as reading that uphill break left on the third green. I started taking mental notes and have zealously been building close, genuine, personal relationships for mutual success ever since. Some of the highlights from my resume suggest the effort has paid off:

  • BA from Yale University.
  • MBA from Harvard Business School.
  • Chief marketing officer and youngest person to be tapped for partner at Deloitte Consulting.
  • Youngest CMO in the Fortune 500 upon joining Starwood Hotels and Resorts.
  • CEO of YaYa, a pioneer in the creation of online games as advertising vehicles.
  • Founder and CEO of FerrazziGreenlight, a consulting and training company.
  • Author of national best-selling book Never Eat Alone.

But what my resume fails to show -- as yours probably does, too -- are the names of all the generous people who helped me along the way. I wouldn't have gone to Yale if my father didn't have the audacity to ask the CEO of his company (my dad's boss's boss's boss's boss's boss), whom he had not previously met, to get me into an amazing elementary school. I wouldn't have attended Harvard if Elsie Hillman hadn't lent me money for business school. I wouldn't have been so successful at Deloitte if then-CEO Pat Loconto hadn't cared so deeply about my growth and development. The list goes on and on.

Your resume, your list of wonderful people who made you a success and your overall happiness can grow endlessly too if you'll adopt the proper relationship mind-set.

No More Rugged Individualism

You'll have to throw out many of the things you've been taught in the past, like that fantasy of John Wayne-style rugged individualism leading you to your dreams. You'll have to throw out that prideful "I don't want anything I don't earn myself" BS. And you'll have to believe that a broad web of genuine, intimate relationships with colleagues, friends and mentors will be the most valuable thing you can create for your career, your company, your family and indeed, your entire life.

You can't get there alone. But you can get there. Oh yes, if a country kid from Pennsylvania can make it, so can you.

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