Excited to be working on some new spec work for my portfolio.
In Never Eat Alone, founder and CEO of Ferrazzi Greenlight Keith Ferrazzi contends that building relationships is the most effective way to build success. He draws from personal experience, his friends’ stories, and the biographies of historical figures and celebrities to explain how to create a powerful and supportive network. His suggestions range from starting your own club to curating an electronic contact list.
The last time a book led me over and through so many emotional hills and valleys, I was reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows after waiting in a line several hours long for its midnight release. No beloved owls or house elves die in Never Eat Alone. No dark wizards commit atrocious acts. Instead, Keith Ferrazzi suggests that the way to cultivate a successful career and life is to form meaningful relationships with thousands of people.
At times, Ferrazzi pumped me up and called me to action. I couldn’t wait to arrange meetings with the people I most admire or create my own projects at work. Every few pages I had to stop reading to jot down ideas.
At other times, I was so riled and frustrated by Ferrazzi’s words that I had to put the book down and take a break. How exhausting would it be to maintain mutually satisfying relationships with thousands of people, wishing each and every one a timely happy birthday and playing professional matchmaker? As an introvert, I often find it difficult enough to maintain a couple dozen relationships at once.
By far the most irritating part of Never Eat Alone was the name dropping. Oh, the name dropping! I’m friends with this-or-that television personality, and I’ve made the career of such-and-such an impossibly rich CEO. Maybe the prospect of befriending Arianna Huffington or Martha Stewart motivates some people… Ferrazzi does try to establish that celebrities should be treated just like everyone else in your network, but he doesn’t exactly follow that advice in his book.
However, Ferrazzi redeemed himself, in my mind, in the second to last chapter. On page 287 (of the hardcover version), he writes, “you don’t have to do it my way.” In this chapter, he fights against the popular idea of “balance,” in which so much time is spent on work and so much time is spent on leisure. He writes that, for him, this kind of “balance” doesn’t exist. Ferrazzi doesn’t differentiate between professional and personal relationships. He mixes clients and family members, CEOs and college students at his dinner parties. He stresses that that is his recipe for a gratifying existence. The reader’s might be different.
I agree that if you are pursuing a career you truly care about, which is something that I would like to do as soon as I can, work and life should and will blend seamlessly. That is something I desire more than anything else in the world. I love the idea of reaching out to and learning from people in the fields that I want to go into, as well as introducing people who can be mutually beneficial to each other. However, if I have to know thousands of people in high places to be successful and never eat a meal alone again, it just isn’t going to happen.
My new business cards arrived today!
This article is useful for anyone looking for a job, not just marketing applicants:
The third time that I knocked, someone finally answered the door. It was clear that he had just woken up. His lids drooped. Strands of long, black hair draped over his unshaven face.
“Hello?” he queried, rubbing his eyes and yawning.
“Hi!” I squeaked, turning chipper in the face of uncertainty. “I’m looking for Rick Gurney!”*
“Rick Gurney doesn’t live here.”
I glanced meaningfully at the small trashcan outside the door with a strip of masking tape labelled “Gurney” in black sharpie on its lid.
“He moved like three months ago,” he explained, Can you leave now? I want to crawl back in bed, written all over his face.
“Do you have his phone number?” I persisted.
“Oh. Okay. I was supposed to meet him for an interview. I guess I’ll find his phone number somewhere else. Bye!” A false smile nearly tore my face in two, at least until he disappeared back inside the house. “Shit,” I muttered, descending the porch.
That was the beginning of my fifth interview of the week–an interview for a Photo-marketer/Admin position with a travel photographer based in Portland. I had found the job listing on Craig’s List a couple of days before and sent the poster a resume.
I have applied for approximately forty jobs in the last month, which have been, for the most part, jobs that I am sincerely interested in. There are actually a lot of people out there hiring for the kind of work that I want to do. However, there are also even more people out there applying for those jobs. Out of those forty or so job applications, I have received exactly three invitations to interview.
Now you might be thinking, wait a second. Didn’t she just say that she interviewed five times last week? Well, yeah. I had five interviews. But three of them were informational interviews.
What are informational interviews? Informational interviews are the best. They are so much more valuable than job interviews. Rather than answer questions about my strengths and weaknesses, and my qualifications and experiences, I got to listen to some talented and successful Lewis & Clark alumni tell me stories about their awesome career paths. I got recommendations for organizations to join and books to read, and tips on how to improve my resume and cover letters. I got told that networking is the best way to get a job. All of the women I spoke to had gotten the majority of their jobs by being generous and by receiving generosity from the people they made connections with. I came away from every one of these informational interviews glowing with excitement for my future career.
In contrast, I came away from every single job interview feeling nervy and uncomfortable and needing to go for a long run.
Thus, I have decided to change my strategy. I’m going to stop applying for jobs for a while. Instead, I am going to put my energy into strengthening my portfolio and meeting people. I am going to finish reading Never Eat Alone, then make a networking plan. I am going to listen to stories and learn new skills. I am going to make beautiful art and share it with people…
Being an adult is a lot more fun than I first thought.
P.S. If you want to talk about graphic design, or marketing, or writing, or blogging, or making art, or what have you, hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, if you know someone else who would be interested in chatting, send them my way.
My first thirty-one blog posts can still be found at lauralisonash.wordpress.com