Entrepreneurs Build Relationships, They Don't Network

Here's a followup to my post the other day about Keith Ferrazzi, the Western PA native/marketing consultant, and his strategies for building relationships that help you build a career.

This morning's New York Times has a long feature -- with photo! -- about Keith and how he encourages his clients to use their workout time to build relationships. Don't invite prospective business partners and clients to have drinks or lunch; invite them to join you to lift, or run, or bike, or climb.
Mr. Ferrazzi said he, too, can tell a lot about people from watching them exercise, and he will often bring new recruits - both male and female - to Barry's Bootcamp, his favorite gym in Los Angeles.

"I generally find that the way people treat their body is an interesting proxy for how they treat their relationships and their work," Mr. Ferrazzi said. He notes, for example, if people stop before they tire. "When you're an entrepreneur, you can't afford to quit early, you've got to push beyond the pain," he said. "That's when true grit comes in and you can determine when someone's going to be successful with you or not."

That's all very Californian, right? I'm looking out my window right now, and I see a typically grey, cool, blustery late Fall Pittsburgh day. Want to know the limits of a Pittsburgher's fortitude? Watch how he or she handles a large order of O-fries.

Besides, that's not what I noticed about the article, and it's not what Pittsburgh entrepreneurs, investors, and managers should notice, either. What everyone should notice is this: This story is the greatest free publicity in the world for Keith Ferrazzi's consulting business. How on earth did Keith Ferrazzi get this story and photo in the New York Times? Don't think "press agent." Think: What did he have to do -- personally, and in person -- to line this up and pull this off?

You may not need or want to be in the New York Times, but if you're an inventor or entrepreneur or an investor or a would-be VP-Sales or Marketing, you want something -- money, technology, employees, business partners, customers, a job. You're not going to find any of them at cocktail receptions and "networking" parties. Especially if you're in a professional role or in an institution that's not accustomed to thinking in entrepreneurial terms -- say, for example, you're a faculty researcher or a private lawyer, or you work for a big university or a large law firm -- how do you go about this -- figuring out what you want and need, and then getting it?

There's more to come on this topic.


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Updated September 2020:

Pittsblog 2.0 was written by Mike Madison, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh, from January 2004 through December 2011.

Since then, Pittsburgh-themed essays have appeared from time to time at madisonian.net, on law and technology, and in some of Pittsburgh's classier professional media venues.

Chris Briem of Null Space drops by Pittsblog from time to time.

All opinions expressed at Pittsblog 2.0 are those of their respective authors and of no one (and no thing) else, least of all the University of Pittsburgh.

Pittsblog 2.0 has a motto: "It's steel good in Pittsburgh." Say it aloud, with a Pittsburgh accent.


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