Keith Ferrazzi’s Advice for the 50 plus Job Seeker: Develop Your Lifelines

January 14, 2010

With all the current buzz about networking to find jobs instead of the traditional methods, it seemed appropriate to talk with an expert on networking to get a bit more insight on the subject.

I was inspired by a recent post from his blog last week, so Tuesday I spoke with Keith Ferrazzi, NY Times bestselling author of “Never Eat Alone and Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time” and “Who’s Got Your Back – The Breakthrough Program to Build Deep, Trusting Relationships That Create Success–and Won’t Let You Fail”.

Keith is a world renowned keynote speaker and expert in networking and relationship development. In this interview, Keith spoke of the importance for older job seekers (or any job seekers, for that matter) to find their small group of “lifelines” – those special people who are committed to your success and who have “got your back”.

What prompted you to write the book Never Eat Alone?

I was frustrated by the way people were defining networking – some of the basic, core truths were deeply misunderstood – especially by people who were calling themselves networkers. Networking is really about developing deep, meaningful relationships and based on generosity first, not how many contacts you have in your Outlook. So that’s why I wrote Never Eat Alone 7 years ago – and it keeps selling…

What advice would you give to the 50+ job seeker?

As you consider the next lily pad you’re hopping to, more than ever you need to know who your lifelines are. In my book, ‘Who’s Got Your Back’, I note that 50% of the people who were asked ‘Who’s got your back’ couldn’t answer the question. 60% of those who couldn’t answer the question were married! They didn’t even consider that their significant others could be their lifelines – and that’s a problem.

To be successful, you can’t do it alone. You need 2-3 people for your lifelines – to spar with, to hold your hand, to prop you up, to be there for you, to support you, to network with.

And how do you find these lifelines?

The long, slow dinner is one way. Interview the few friends that you think might be there for you – that they’re compatible, have the right personality for you, and vice versa – use this opportunity to test them out – it’s like creating your ‘kitchen cabinet’, your unofficial advisers. Napoleon Hill, author of the classic 1937 book “Think and Grow Rich”, used the term “Master Minds” as that group of people who are your personal advisers and are committed to your success. I like to think the message in my books is the modern day equivalent to Napoleon Hill’s timeless wisdom that we cannot do it alone.

What advice do you have for the 20 something job seeker?

It’s the same! I just gave a talk to a Stanford MBA group and the message was the same you need to establish your lifelines.

What are you most passionate about?

I’ll answer that with this story: I recently spoke at an event and the organizer was worried that the group of very technical people would find the message too soft & fuzzy. Instead, they came away saying that my message about meaningful relationships was deeply impactful. That’s what I’m passionate about – that my message is not just helping people be better professionals, but to be better moms and dad’s and sisters and friends – that they can be better people.

By the way, you can see my columns on career coaching and transitions at SF

JP McDermott is a financial services and insurance advisor in Walnut Creek, CA. specializing in career transitions. He is also a career and financial coach, a freelance writer on career coaching with SF, and has been volunteering his time and experience to various non-profit, service and civic organizations.
JP lives in Danville with his wife Candy.

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