A little over a decade ago, Tim Ferriss was a nobody with a nutritional supplement startup.
He wrote a self-help book from the tech entrepreneur perspective and called it “The 4-Hour Workweek” — a title he now likes to joke sounds like it’s from an infomercial, but was meant to reflect his philosophy of cutting out clutter in an increasingly distracted world.
After having his proposal rejected 26 times, he finally landed a deal with Crown and embarked on an ambitious self-promotional tour. By cleverly connecting with a few influencers, including the influential tech blogger Robert Scoble and Silicon Valley power broker Marc Andreessen, “The 4-Hour Workweek” broke all expectations and not only became a longstanding New York Times bestseller, but also launched a new phase of Ferriss’ career.
Across two episodes of his podcast, he credited this turn of success to his networking approach, which is based on three simple tenets:
- Don’t dismiss people. “Treat everyone like they’re important, because they are,” Ferriss said. “You’re not only making yourself look bad by shrugging off a non-recognisable person at a networking event in an attempt to speak to a celebrity, but you’re risking offending someone who may be much more connected than you realised.”
- Don’t be a jerk. Related to the above point, don’t approach meeting new people as a transactional experience — people will be able to see right through you.
- Don’t rush. Ferriss said this is the most important point. You don’t want to meet someone, get their business card, and then expect to have accomplished something. Real networks are built on real relationships, and those take time.
In the more recent of the two podcast episodes, Ferriss answered a listener question about how he was able to meet interesting people like the investor Chris Sacca, Digg cofounder Kevin Rose, and author Darya Pino. He found the question interesting because it was actually Rose who introduced him to both Sacca and Pino.
Ferriss noted that you shouldn’t approach networking as a trophy collection, where you try to meet as many people as possible. There are certain people who thrive off connecting others for their mutual benefit — like Rose — and these are the people you want in your circle. “You want to go an inch wide and a mile deep” with networking, Ferriss said.
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