Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty

Posted by on Jun 2, 2010 in Blog, Networking, Review, Success | 0 comments

Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty

Harvey Mackay is well known for his multitude of connections. I read an Amazon book review for Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi and in that review, Harvey Mackay’s book Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty was recommended as a must read.

I read the book and enjoyed it for the most part. I felt like the book could have been rewritten more concisely for people that want to get to the more clinical methods for networking. The stories on the other hand give the reader more of a feel on how Harvey Mackay and his colleagues network. As portrayed in The Inner Game of Tennis, it is very powerful to learn from positive examples and using the stories, as Psycho-Cybernetics would suggest, to visualize how proper successful networking should be done.

I have decided to include some excerpts from the book that I find to be more empowering to me than really anyone else. I have been told that I should personally write a book on networking, and I may just do that. In fact, I’ve been thinking about how I would go about writing it and what I would include in there. Some of my methods are a bit more divergent than Harvey’s but on the same token, I have taken some ideas from him and would like to share them in this post.

And remember, I have posted this as a token of good faith that you will go ahead and buy this book or borrow it from the public library.

And on a side-note: If networking seems like a lot of work, it can be until you get a system down. If you feel like you don’t have time, you can make time. You need to and you should want to make time to build your network.

Here are the big ideas from the book:

Before you meet new people, before you make that call, do your homework. Find that common ground. Determine where their needs and interests lie. Make that connection.

Everyone you know, even if that person is wearing government-issued pinstripes, may qualify to be part of your network.

It does matter how they remember you, but it’s more important that they do remember you.

A network is an organized collection of your personal contacts’ own networks. Networking is finding fast whom you need to get what you need in any given situation and helping others do the same.

If you ever have to make one of those infamous 2 A.M. phone calls, if it isn’t the doctor, chances are it’s going to be to one of the people in the categories described here.

Here’s my choice of the sixteen most likely candidates. (In the book there are explanations for these choices)

  1. Real estate broker
  2. Source for hard-to-get tickets
  3. Travel Agent
  4. Catholic/Jewish/Protestant/African American/Feminist community leader . . . just to name a few
  5. Headhunter
  6. Banker
  7. Elected local official
  8. High-ranking cop
  9. Firefighters
  10. Celebrity
  11. Veterinarian
  12. Insurance expert
  13. Divorce lawyer
  14. Auto Mechanic
  15. Media contact
  16. Best friend


When you’re starting out to build a network, you should – at a minimum – do the following four things:

  1. Hit every trade group meeting you can find: lunches, awards shows, annual dinners, fund-raisers – whatever.
  2. Go to your national trade shows and conventions.
  3. Go back to school. Take classes. Improve your skills.
  4. Pick an organization, any organization, and get active. … Join something. Meet people. Build your network.

Network Builder Cards

(There’s lots of information in the book on what you should put into these cards. This is an example of the research and getting to know who you’re talking to that Harvey Mackay suggests in his book.)

“Press on. Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education alone will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.” – Calvin Coolidge (story is about Ray Kroc though who publicized this quote)

One reason that people are afraid to network is that they don’t want to hear the word no. But no is the second-best answer there is. At least you know where you stand.

Most have never figured out that it’s better to spend time with fewer people at a one-hour cocktail party and have a meaningful dialogue than practice the wandering-eye routine and lose the respect of most of the people they meet.

I learned the right way by observing two of the world’s most popular and enduring public figures, Billy Graham and the late Norman Vincent Peale.

When Graham or Peale met someone for the first time, they made that person feel like the most important person in the room.

They made eye contact and kept it.

They smiled.

They listened.

When they talked, they asked questions or made comments that showed they were hearing and were interested in what the other person had to say.

If the conversation was just polite banter, they had a topical joke or a quip – usually a pretty good one.

If it was more substantive, they gave the other person a chance to make a point without interrupting.

When they had to break off a conversation, they did it graciously, by offering to exchange cards and asking the other person to call or write them.

Is it any wonder that these two men created two of the most effective networks on earth?

Sure send birthday and anniversary cards, but recognize your networks’ other special days.

No one who received a Christmas card from the comedian Red Buttons ever forgot it. Buttons’s personal notes were uncannily on-point, precise references to his most recent contact with the recipient. The note would read something like “I’ll never forget meeting you on April 15 (or whenever it was) and getting the dish on this year’s Yankee pitching staff (or whatever it was).”

How could he remember the date and the conversation so accurately eight moths after it occured?

Well, he couldn’t.

As soon as he met someone, no matter when it was, he made out their card, included his personal note, and stashed it away until the holidays. To the best of my knowledge, he used the same system for years, and no one ever caught on.

Local papers…all have business columns that feature significant new hires and promotions. When one of your network members lands on the list, you can be sure every stockbroker in town will send a card, so hand-write yours or make a phone-call. Or you might try something more creative like a personalized pocket pad with the person’s name and new title on it.

Weddings, confirmations, graduations, school plays, bar mitzvahs, recitals, the big award: People always remember who was there and who wasn’t.

You’d be amazed at how many big cigars will be willing to talk with you or write to you if you simply make the effort. Hey, it’s lonely at the top.

[Bruce] Foraker was called “the man of 10,000 friends” because his employees held him in such great respect.

(and also look up Michael Bonsignore)

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