By Bradley Hatchett – Founder & Managing Director

Human beings are complex. Building strong business relationships doesn’t always come easily to everyone.

Many factors are at play when networking. First impressions. How you communicate. How you listen. What you say. How you say it. Your approach. 

After all, networking is a skill; not a one size fits all activity.

Whether you’re brand new to building business relationships, or an experienced networker, here are five books that have shaped how our Founder and Managing Director, Bradley Hatchett, approaches networking, how he interacts with others and traits he’s noticed from the most successful networkers

1. Never Eat Alone – Keith Ferrazzi

This book had such a positive impact on me I did a standalone LinkedIn post.

It should be a bible for anyone looking to make their networking more efficient, those already in the industry and those just starting out. It has so many actionable tips about how to develop new, and nurture existing, relationships.

Ferrazzi’s lifestyle in maintaining his relationships is thorough, extreme and pretty relentless. But the results speak for themselves. Taking just a few of his tangible methods will positively affect your relationship management, or ‘Relationship Action Plan’ as he calls it.

My Key Takeaway: ‘Build it before you need it’. The idea that you should be networking before  you need something, rather than when you do. You should always be building your network; being able to tap into different corners of your network when you can help someone or when you are seeking something.

Never Eat Alone - Keith Ferrazzi

2. Chimp Paradox – Steve Peters

This book taught me more about communicating and understanding different personality types than any other I’ve read. It changed the way I observe, interact and communicate with people

When networking, I’ve spoken before about being a chameleon in adapting to your surroundings and who you are speaking to. You meet a lot of interesting and different types of people; Peters’s Chimp Paradox helps you prepare for that. 

From dealing with introverts and extroverts, opinionated and self-centred people, to shy and reserved, I’ve seen it all. But being able to manage myself through different conversations successfully has all stemmed from the Chimp Paradox.

It helped me understand why you react emotionally to certain things, how to manage and recognise that in yourself, but also in others. This is hugely impactful not just in conversation at networking events, but in the follow up (and often more emotional) part of the networking process, as you explore opportunities to work, partner or collaborate with others.

My Key Takeaway: How ‘Gremlins’ can affect your relationships with people. ‘Gremlins’ are what Steve Peters explains to be beliefs or ideas about certain people or ideas that we hold. I see this a lot when networking, where people may judge people based on certain factors. Size of business, the industry they work in, their job title. If it doesn’t suit their agenda, they have a closed mindset with these people, thinking they won’t benefit from a conversation or a relationship.

But in reality, you never know who knows who when networking, and any conversation can lead to something (if you ask the right questions). I’ve learned never to judge or assume something about anyone. 

Here’s a story from my own experience.

I met a lady who was working part-time in a network marketing company that had a poor reputation on the networking circuit. However, we got chatting and ended up discussing her previous career. 

Turns out prior to her current role, she was on the board of a FTSE 100 company, and was in her current position to be able to balance work with bringing up her two young children. She ended up introducing me to three or four really great people from her previous career whom I’ve since added to my network or worked with. 

And I’ve never forgotten it. Never write anyone off. Let go of your Gremlins. 

3. Atomic Habits – James Clear

Networking should be a habit. It’s all about consistency and being in it for the long-term. We talk about that a lot with our community and when onboarding new members.

If you don’t have good networking habits and aren’t consistent, it won’t work for you. You’ll simply join the hundreds of others in the ‘networking doesn’t work’ club.

This book teaches the importance of implementing good habits by blocking out your diary each week/month to ensure you attend events regularly. Then when you are at an event, building good habits that make yours and other attendee’s time spent there worthwhile. 

Networking aside, this book is one of my all time favourites. Whatever habit you’re looking to build.

My Key Takeaway: “Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become”. Think of the type of person or business you want to become. Want to become more connected, better informed and a key person of influence in your industry? Attending a networking event is a habit you can build into your activity to achieve that, and is a ‘vote’ towards that goal. 

Atomic Habits - James Clear

4. How to Make Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie

This was one of the first personal development / psychology books I read as I was starting Network My Club – and I’m so glad it was. 

It’s had a huge impact on me. How I interact with people. How I develop and nurture relationships. And generally how I live day-to-day as a good human being. 

There’s a reason this is one of the best selling and most influential books of all time. Written in 1936, the principles are as true today as they were back then. 

My Key Takeaway: Highlighting the most important thing that belongs to anyone – their name. It’s such a simple thing remembering someone’s name, but so powerful. I try to do this with anyone I meet. One tip to remember someone’s name; say it three times in conversation when you’ve first met them. 

For example: Hi John nice to meet you. So, John, what problem does your business solve? That’s interesting you say John, I’ve found that too.

5. Never Split the Difference – Chris Voss

As chief hostage negotiator for the FBI, Chris Voss knows how to ask the right questions. 

For him it’s a matter of life and death. Thankfully, networking isn’t quite like that. However, asking the right questions will make your networking experience more positive and fruitful. 

Being prepared going into an event with effective questions (LINK) up your sleeve is a hugely worthwhile part of the networking process. It’ll help your experience, as well as those on the receiving end of the questioning.

Rather than; “Have you been to this event before?’ How about; “What do you hope to achieve from being at this event today?” 

It starts with genuine curiosity, asking the right questions to elicit the most thought-provoking and productive responses. 

My Key Takeaway: Voss’ skill of ‘tactical empathy’. It’s about listening. Understanding the other person’s viewpoint, and making them feel heard. Arguably, it’s one of the most powerful skills you can demonstrate when networking. Empathy is great, but using it tactically to help others feel more comfortable and understood is powerful. 

Next On My List:

I’m always on the lookout for books that’ll help in networking and relationship building environments. Here’s what I’ll be reading over the coming months:

Give & Take – Adam Grant

Social Chemistry: Decoding the Patterns of Human Connections – Marissa King

How to Talk to Anyone – Leil Lowndes

What would you add? Add a comment to my LinkedIn post here.

If you’re thinking of buying any of the books mentioned below are two online book stores I use regularly (that aren’t Amazon):

World of Books – https://www.worldofbooks.com/en-gb 

Hive – https://www.hive.co.uk/

Once you’ve read them, put what you’ve learned into practice with our growing numbers of business networking events.

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