I've been reading Jeffrey Gitomer's "Little Black Book of Connections - 6.5 Assets for Networking Your Way to Rich Relationships" and I think it's a great resource for increasing your ability to make connections with others. The book (which is, of course, small and black) has a ribbon bookmark so you can easily keep track of where you are as you move through it. It's great having a built-in bookmark.
This book has lots of tips and tricks in it, but it definitely isn't gimmicky. I've read other networking books that were good, but this one actually feels like I could apply its principles without having to try to go against my nature. For example, I really enjoyed reading Keith Ferrazzi's "Never Eat Alone," but I don't have the right "wiring" to replicate Ferazzi's way of networking.
In this book, Gitomer doesn't force you to do superhuman things that you can't sustain. Rather, Gitomer's tips are designed to help you shift your philosophy of networking and get you to develop new, small-scale habits that add up to make you better at connecting and building relationships with others.
What can you expect to find? This little black book is filled with lots of tips to help you develop a habits for helping others before you ever ask them for help, for developing a long-term strategy for maintaining better relationships with various types of contacts, and how to consistently be yourself in your interactions with your contacts. There are also tips for how to promote yourself without being "schmoozy" and regularly touch your contacts along the way.
Tap into companion resources
In addition to the book, the author does a lot online to help enhance the book, and feed you tidbits and reminders. In fact, he provides very useful "Git Bits" (which, I imagine, is quite amusing to my British friends) via his site a www.gitomer.com. Want to sample a Git Bit? Go to his site and enter "Lifelong Learning" in the Git Bit Search field.
To actually get any of the articles, you'll need to register. If you do register, I suggest that you also sign up for his "Sales Caffeine" newsletter - it's applicable to more than Sales people.
By the way, there are a bunch of keywords in the book to help you select specific "Git Bits" for key areas of skill development.
A little something for everyone
Whether you're new to the networking game, or an accomplished connector, you're likely to find something in this book to help you improve - there are even tips on how to find and utilize a mentor in here. Many of the tips are similar to other great tips I've seen in other networking books, but this book has all of them (and more) in one place.
Think of it as a collection of "best known methods" for networking. And, by the way, Gitomer's writing style is very conversational, making this an easy read.
Oh - and that ribbon I mentioned? Now that I've finished the book, I think I'll use the ribbon for another purpose: I'll pick one area I want to focus on for developing my networking and relationship building skills, and use the ribbon to make it easy to refer back to it when I need a refresher.
So - check it out and uplevel your networking skills.