To most people, "networking" is a dirty word - summoning images of grubby 'here's-my-card' hustlers who can't remember your name or recently-downsized professionals desperately pinging friends for job leads. Done incompetently, networking gets exactly the negative press it deserves.
In a world of thumb-sucking amateurs, Ferrazzi shines in vivid contrast: 'If your aspirations are to be one of the top x people in the world in whatever you do, if you're so bold as to want to be president of the United States or a respected CEO in the Fortune 500, I would argue that you won't get there by knowing a lot of middle-level people. You need to know the right people, for the right reason.
'It's about a personal connection that makes you feel a sense of reciprocity. Superficiality is not networking. There are people who have lots of superficial connections, and people call that networking. But that's not successful. You feel dirty when you talk to someone like that. The outcome of good networking is the capacity to have a conversation with anyone you want to have a conversation with and then to leave that conversation with a lasting connection of some sort.'
What he does, he'll say, has nothing to do with quid pro quo, with a running equation in which you give just so you can get; it's something much more - a way of engaging with the world. For Ferrazzi, networking is about making a difference, exploring, learning, connecting. For Ferrazzi, it's the conscious construction of his life's path.
The 10 Secrets of a Master Networker
Edit: for the curious - in Are You a Connector?, I wrote a bit about Malcolm Gladwell, whose theories on social connections was the basis for the supurb book The Tipping Point. Thanks to merrill for reminding me how Ferrazzi fits into Gladwell's description of the "connector" personality archetype.