Dig Your Well Before You're Thirsty: The Only Networking Book You'll Ever Need

Dig Your Well Before You're Thirsty: The Only Networking Book You'll Ever Need

by Harvey Mackay


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Bestselling author Harvey Mackay reveals his techniques for the most essential tool in business--networking, the indispensable art of building contacts.

Now in paperback, Dig Your Well Before You're Thirsty is Harvey Mackay's last word on how to get what you want from the world through networking.  For everyone from the sales rep facing a career-making deal to the entrepreneur in search of capital, Dig Your Well explains how meeting these needs should be no more than a few calls away.  This shrewdly practical book distills Mackay's wisdom gleaned from years of "swimming with sharks," including:

What kinds of networks exist
How to start a network, and how to wring the most from it
The smart way to downsize your list--who to keep, who to dump
How to keep track of favors done and favors owed--Is it my lunch or yours?
What you can do if you are not good at small talk

Dig Your Well Before You're Thirsty is a must for anyone who wants to get ahead by reaching out.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780385485463
Publisher: The Crown Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/28/1999
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 232,426
Product dimensions: 5.43(w) x 8.21(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Harvey Mackay is a bestselling author whose books include the mega-selling Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive; and a nationally syndicated columnist, whose weekly business advice appears in fifty newspapers around the United States.  He is an active corporate CEO and a prominent civic leader.  He and his family live in Minneapolis.

Read an Excerpt

A Network Never Sleeps

Our foursome had finished the usual Saturday morning round of golf. We were in the clubhouse doing the postmortem when Jerry said, "Last night I got a call. It was two in the morning. I won't tell you who it was because one of you might know him. He was semihysterical. His accountant had called him that afternoon and told him he was broke; his company couldn't make the payroll, and if he didn't retrieve the checks he'd written, there was a good chance he'd go to jail. The guy needed $20,000. The strange thing is, I hadn't talked to him in over ten years. He said the only reason he called me was that I used to be a close friend and that I knew he was a trustworthy guy. Well, I offered to lend him a few thousand dollars, but I didn't give him what he needed even though I could have.

"It got me thinking though," Jerry added. "What if it had been me? How many people could I realistically count on to bust a gut to help me out if I'd called them at 2 A.M.?"

"How many, Jerry?"

"Two, maybe three."

We went around the table. The answers were about the same until they got to me.

"Fifty," I said.

"Come on, Harvey! That's B.S."

"No, it isn't," I said. "I've been ready to make the kind of call that Jerry got for nearly forty years. I never had to make it. I made fifty others like it instead. I've made 2 A.M. calls to find the absolutely best doctor in town in a family medical crisis; I've made them to get a valued employee out of a blackmail situation and to stop a customer not only from dumping me but to keep him from badmouthing me so totally that my business would be ruined forever.

"I know I've been to the wall at least fifty times, and in each one of those fifty times, I was able to find the right person to get me the help I needed.

"Ever since I was dumb enough to buy a bankrupt envelope company when I was just a kid, I've been building a network of people who I could count on and who count on me in case one of those 2 A.M.ers came around. I know I wouldn't have survived if I hadn't, and I'm proud that a lot of other people who made those kind of calls to me wouldn't have made it either if I hadn't been part of their networks."

I feel sorry for the guy who called Jerry, because it didn't have to come down that way. But the guy didn't stay in touch. He didn't prepare. He not only didn't dig his well before he got thirsty, he waited until he was dying of thirst before he even started clawing the ground.

How many names do you think he called before he called Jerry--a guy he hadn't talked to in ten years? Five? Ten? Probably even more. And with each call the odds grew longer against connecting, because he was getting farther and farther away from his real network.

Remember the Broadway show and movie Six Degrees of Separation?  The title refers to the fact that there's a chain of no more than six people that links every person on this planet to every other person.

What if I want to meet the president of GE and sell him some envelopes? Well, if I know somebody who knows somebody and so on, six deep, I can be standing there in Jack Welch's office pitching #l0s before we play our next round. That's a helluva network, and we're all capable of building one just like it.

But try to reach over the five people between you and Welch directly? Can't be done. That's Jerry's nonpal's way. A non-network. A rope of sand. If you dig your well and actually have a network, you're never going to be out on that sixth dimension all by your lonesome where all you get is busy signals and wrong numbers.

"Jerry, I just want you to know that if I get a late-nighter from you some day, the twenty grand will be in your account within twenty-four hours. By the way, what have you got for collateral?"

"What have I got for collateral? I remember catching one of those 2 A.M.ers from you, Harvey. I've been there for you."

"You're right," I said. "And that's all the collateral you need."

Jerry and I have been around forever. If we can keep our network going year after year, it isn't too late for you.

The New England Journal of Medicine has published studies showing that people who stop smoking, even though they may have smoked for decades, can cut their risk of lung cancer nearly to the same levels as people who have never smoked.

Same reasoning with networking.

The Mackay Journal of Networking has no published studies but cheerfully predicts that no matter when you start, you can build a network of people who will pick up the phone, ready to help, if you ever have to make a call at 2 A.M.

Mackay's Maxim:

2 A.M. is a lousy time to try to make new friends.

The Most Important Networking Lesson I Ever Learned

When I graduated from the University of Minnesota, I couldn't afford my own apartment. I lived at home in St. Paul. My mother had died just about the time I finished up at school, so my housemate was my father.

He was lonely.

I was trying to get my career started, and I was in over my head most of the time.

The result: a lot more father/son talks than I'd had in all the previous years we had lived together.

At the time, I was scratching out a living selling envelopes for Quality Park. I wanted to get on the fast track, but I didn't have a clue as to where the fast track was or how to catch the train that traveled on it.

My father did.

"Look, ever since you were seven years old, you've been batting golf balls around. I've seen you come in with bloody hands from hanging out at the driving range." (They gave me all the free whacks I wanted in exchange for running around in a golf cart with an iron cage mounted on it, picking up the loose balls.)

"Now that I think about it, golf is probably the only form of human activity you've taken seriously up to now.

Why don't you try to capitalize on what you've lost?

"Go over to Minneapolis and pitch the admissions committee at the Oak Ridge Country Club. They're always buried in last place in the Minneapolis City Golf League. Tell them how you played golf for the University of Minnesota team, won the city championship twice, and was runner-up in the state high school tournament. They need new blood. They need talent. See if they'll let you in without having to pay the usual horrendous initiation fee, which neither of us can afford.

"If they do, you've got unlimited potential to make great business contacts. I think they have about 300 members, and most of them would love to play with you because of your low handicap. And maybe your generous and visionary employer will help you with the dues if you can show them some envelope action."

So why not? What's to lose in trying?

I gave the admissions committee the sales job of a lifetime. I figured the odds were the same as making a hole-in-one, but I gave it a shot.

"For nothing? You want us to admit you, a twenty-two-year-old kid, who knows virtually no one in the entire club, for nothing? Just so you can hustle our old duffers, pardon me, our distinguished members?"

Slight overswing. I had landed in a bunker.

"No, no, that isn't what I had in mind."

"Right. You want to help us win the City League Championship. Not sell envelopes."

"Well, not gamble on golf. I promise you I will never hustle a member. But I don't see anything wrong with making business contacts. That's what people do at country clubs. And just because I'm young, you shouldn't hold that against me. Young members are likely to pay dues for a lot more years than old members."

"No initiation fee?"

"I can't afford an initiation fee. Not now. Maybe someday."

"Someday? Then maybe we should defer your admission until someday."

"And blow off young members until they get old? And good golfers too?"

And so it went.

No sale. Triple bogey.

But I didn't throw away my clubs.

Six months and numerous meetings later, I was admitted.

For next to nothing down and a dues schedule I could live with, barely. As part of the deal, they made it clear they would be looking over my shoulder for any signs of improvement in my financial condition.

As I look back on my career, there's no question that this was the one single act that most helped me launch my career.

Three hundred members. Three hundred potential customers. Three hundred million unbet three-footers and Calcuttas. All in addition to the ton of new contacts in the city league.

What a network!

Fingerhut Corporation--the huge direct mail company. My largest account forty years ago, and still my largest account today
The Minnesota Vikings
General Mills
The Pillsbury Company
Coast-to-Coast Stores

To name just a few. So many new doors were opened up for me that within a few years I was top dog in sales at Quality Park and ready to go into business for myself.

But the best payoff was yet to come.

I was introduced to another former junior champ with a closet full of golf trophies.

Though my new golf partner never bought an envelope from me, she did say "I do." As a result, Carol Ann and I have been married for thirty-six years and raised three terrific kids together.

Mackay's Maxim:

Your best network will develop from what you do best.

Doin' What Comes Unnaturally

Fred was one of my schoolmates from fourth grade all through college.

He was a loner, a total introvert, painfully shy, with all the baggage that comes with it--the dead-fish handshake, the downcast eyes that never quite met yours, the halting, barely audible stabs at conversation.

Still, Fred was sincere, honest, hardworking, a thoroughly decent person.

I'm sure Fred went through high school without ever having a date. I can remember how, on graduation day, many of us trolled the halls to corral our classmates into signing our yearbooks. We competed with each other to see who could fill the most pages with reminiscences and tributes from their friends.

But not Fred. Once again, too timid, too shy. It would be a force job for Fred to go up to a classmate and request this easy favor.

Fast forward to college.

Somehow, Fred managed to get into a fraternity. Maybe it was because he never had a bad word to say about anyone. Maybe he was a "legacy." Maybe it was because Fred decided it was something he wanted badly enough to come out of his cocoon and really go for.

What was it that changed him? Only The Shadow knows.

Whatever it was, whatever it took, a new Fred began to emerge.

By our last year in college, he was unrecognizable from the Fred of our high school years.

He had become popular and gregarious. Fred's "lost years" in high school had not been entirely wasted. He seemed to know more about swing music and jazz than anyone else on campus, probably from listening to it alone in his room. He also developed a flair for dancing, a considerable social advantage.

After college, Fred and several of his fraternity brothers formed a partnership in the automotive business. They became very successful.

We all know people like Fred. Some of them never manage to shake off their early problems.

Others do.

For some people, networking is as natural and instinctive as breathing. We all know people who are self-confident, radiate optimism, make friends easily, and seem to glide through life on winged feet.

Not many of them will be readers of this book.

Why should they be? They do this stuff without even having to think about it. They network with their alarm clocks when they wake up in the morning.

This book--and particularly this chapter--is addressed to the rest of us, the Freds of the world, those not quite so sure of ourselves, perhaps a bit shy, even timid. We're not out there bowling over everyone we meet with our dazzling smiles or brilliant conversation. We're not even out there bowling.

For most people networking is a learned behavior, like learning to swim.  It is a gradual--and often painful, even scary--process of trial and error, small incremental steps, and finally a few breakthroughs.

Fortunately, there are several tried and true techniques for overcoming this Fear of Trying.

1. Practice "let's pretend."

Why do we procrastinate? Why are we shy? We fear failure, and we define failure as falling short of perfection. Since perfection is impossible to achieve, we are conflicted and act tentatively, or don't act at all.

Plato said each thing or idea has a perfect form. While we can never achieve the ideal form, we should attempt to come as close as we can by observing and emulating the characteristics of the ideal.

Let's segue from the ancient Greeks to the modern angst-ridden networker. There is someone you want to meet. You have done your homework, you are aware of an affinity or a shared experience with this person, but you are afraid to make the first move.

Why not play a game with yourself? The name of the game is "Let's Pretend."

Ask yourself, "What would the ideal networker do in this situation?"

Pretend you are that person. And do it.

If you are able to do that, you can reinvent yourself.

By pretending you are what you are not, you actually can become what you have pretended to be.

2. Adopt a role model.

What's the difference between this suggestion and the Aristotle gambit?

Your ideal is real, not imagined.

You're not asking yourself what the perfect person would do, you've attached yourself to a successful networker and you're committed to studying his or her techniques.

In the best of all possible worlds, your role models also can become your mentors, helping you, advising you, guiding you, even lending you their network as you build your own.

For the shy or anxious person, this method has two advantages:
It takes only one good connection to start you on your way.
Your natural shyness and inexperience can help rather than hinder you. As you gain confidence and skills, your role model will take pride in your progress and be motivated to do even more for you.

3. Take lessons.

You're taking one now, as you read this book, so you're already a believer in the learning process. There are other, real-life educational opportunities that are effective for overcoming shyness and inexperience.

The first real networking school I signed up for after I got out of college was Toastmasters. It proved so valuable to me that here I am many years later being paid handsomely as a public speaker, even though my main thrust is still running my business.

Toastmasters is not just about making speeches. It's about doing your homework, self-confidence, appearance, and becoming an interesting person and a valuable resource to others. In other words, Toastmasters can help you gain and polish the tools to become a successful networker.

The Dale Carnegie schools are designed to achieve similar goals. I'm a graduate, and I can tell you from my own experience that they are masters at instilling personal confidence, polish, poise, communication, and networking skills in their students. They've been around a long time--an excellent indication that they are getting results.

And if you hope one day to be a professional public speaker, or if you just want to sound like one, there is no better organization to join than the National Speakers Association (NSA), headquartered in Tempe, Arizona.

I am a member and collectively we speak to 20 million people a year. If you're looking to hire a speaker for an event, they're the ones to call. In fact, I believe this organization is so worthwhile that if you don't feel you got your money's worth the first year, send me a copy of your canceled check and I'll give you a "Harvey Mackay Scholarship"--the second year's membership is on me. NSA can be reached at (602) 968-2552 or via the Worldwide Web at www.NSASpeaker.org. They can explain to you about national membership and/or put you in touch with your local chapter.

4. Keep taking lessons.

Graduation is not the end of your education. It's the foundation, the launching pad, the beginning. Unless you keep your batteries charged, they will run down. For an ongoing source of inspiration and motivation, I recommend subscribing to Norman Vincent Peale's publication Positive Living. A similar publication in more condensed form is Bits & Pieces.

5. Join up.

Just about any group offers possibilities for making contacts and achieving personal growth: Dancing. Choir. Coin collecting. Horseback riding. Art appreciation. Theater going. Antique shopping. Politics. Great books. Wine. Food.

6. Have a little faith.

In yourself.

Dale Carnegie probably summed it up best: "You can make more friends in two months by becoming really interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you. Which is just another way of saying that the way to make a friend is to be one."

Mackay's Maxim:

The more you exercise your networking muscles, the stronger they get--and the easier networking becomes.

Table of Contents

Introduction by Jack Kemp ..... xv
Happy Birthday, Ziggy! ..... 1

Step One: Jump In, the Water's Fine! ..... 7

Chapter 1. A Network Never Sleeps ..... 7
Chapter 2. Six Conclusions to Begin ..... 10
Chapter 3. Maybe Networking Really Is Rocket Science ..... 12
Chapter 4. Harvey's Top-Ten List of the Most Important Things a Network Can Do ..... 14

Step Two: Time to prime the Well! ..... 33
Chapter 5. Prepare to Win ..... 33
Chapter 6. Networks, Like Bass, Are Where You Find Them ..... 36
Chapter 7. The Four Best Places to Go Prospecting ..... 40
Chapter 8. You Know Who, But Does Who Know You? ..... 45
Chapter 9. The Most Important Networking Lesson I Ever Learned ..... 47
Chapter 10. Doin'What Comes Unnaturally ..... 50

Step Three: Start Digging! ..... 57
Chapter 11. Lou Holtz's Networking Story: How I Became a Coach ..... 57
Chapter 12. What Is a Network? ..... 60
Chapter 13. What Isn't a Network? ..... 62
Chapter 14. R.I.S.K. It. The Four Elements of Networking ..... 65
Chapter 15. Sixteen Cornerstone for a Solid Network ..... 76
Chapter 16. Network as If Your Life Depended on It, Because It Does ..... 86
Chapter 17. Why Aim Low? ..... 96
Chapter 18. Networks R Us ..... 98

Step Four: Sharpen your Edge! ..... 103
Chapter 19. The Single Best Vantage Point from Which to Build ..... 103
Chapter 20. Muhammad Ali's Networking Story: How I Learned to Expand My Network ..... 106
Chapter 21. When You Work on Your Network, Your Networks Works for You ..... 112
Chapter 22. ThisIsn't the Army: You Need More Than Name, Rank, and Serial Number ..... 120
Chapter 23. If It Doesn't Work for You, It Doesn't Work ..... 125
Chapter 24. Plugging into Your Network ..... 129
Chapter 25. You Show Me Yours...I'll Show You Mine ..... 131
Chapter 26. Maximum Effort, Maximum Results ..... 133

Step Five: Excavate Your Unique Skills! ..... 139
Chapter 27. There Is Nothing Worse Than Looking at a Deer Caught in Your Headlights ..... 139
Chapter 28. Butcher, Baker, Envelope Maker ..... 141
Chapter 29. Be a Differentiator and... ..... 142
Chapter 30. ...And They'll Never Forget You ..... 145
Chapter 31. The Return of the One-Armed Men ..... 147
Chapter 32. It Doesn't Matter Where You Start, It's Where You Finish ..... 150
Chapter 33. Take My Network...Please ..... 153
Chapter 34. Let the Games Begin ..... 158
Chapter 35. Q: How Do You Open the Door? A: Know the Gatekeeper ..... 160
Chapter 36. You Are What You Read ..... 162
Chapter 37. The Two-Minute Drill ..... 164
Chapter 38. The Shark That Got Away ..... 166

Step Six: Dig Deeper! ..... 171
Chapter 39. A League of Her Own ..... 171
Chapter 40. Bring Something to the Party ..... 174
Chapter 41. Diversify ..... 177
Chapter 42. Love, Honor, and Obey Your Spouse's Network ..... 178
Chapter 43. The Best Place to Find a Helping Hand Is at the End of Your Arm ..... 181
Chapter 44. The Network Right in Your Own Backyard ..... 183
Chapter 45. Come on In, No Shark Sightings Today! ..... 186
Chapter 46. Marilyn Nelson's Networking Story: How We Got the Super Bowl ..... 188
Chapter 47. Don't Forget the Ones You've Left Behind ..... 191
Chapter 48. Teach Your Subordinates the Power of Networking ..... 193
Chapter 49. Networks for Sale ..... 196

Step Seven: Don't Fall In! ..... 201
Chapter 50. Harvey's Top-Ten List of the Biggest Networking Mistakes ..... 201
Chapter 51. Norman Ornstein's Networking Story: What Not to Do to Win Friends and Influence People ..... 209
Chapter 52. Don't Make a Move Without It ..... 212
Chapter 53. Spin to Win ..... 214
Chapter 54. Network Alert ..... 216
Chapter 55. Network Intelligence ..... 218
Chapter 56. Networking Poster Child ..... 219
Chapter 57. All Networks Are Not Created Equal ..... 220
Chapter 58. Ask and You Shall Receive--Maybe ..... 222

Step Eight: Minding the Well! ..... 225
Chapter 59. Harvey's Top-Ten List of the the Best Ways To Stay in Touch with Your Network ..... 225
Chapter 60. It Is Better to Give Before You Receive ..... 231
Chapter 61. The Ever-Blooming Garden ..... 233
Chapter 62. A Few Tricks of the Trade--Part I ..... 239
Chapter 63. A Few Tricks of the Trade--Part II ..... 241
Chapter 64. You Never Know When the Phone Is Going to Ring ..... 242
Chapter 65. You Can't Walk Through a Door Unless You Open It ..... 245
Chapter 66. The World's Greatest Networker ..... 247
Chapter 67. And Now for the Runners-Up ..... 252
Chapter 68. Join the Grounds Crew ..... 254
Chapter 69. Present at the Creation ..... 256
Chapter 70. Pat O'Brien's Networking Story: How to Stay in Touch ..... 259

Step Nine: All's Well That Ends Well! ..... 205
Chapter 71. The Ten Commandments of Networking ..... 265
Chapter 72. Your Networking Report Card ..... 266
Chapter 73. The Perfect Network ..... 271
Chapter 74. Teach Your Kids the Power of Networking ..... 273
Chapter 75. Have Your Kids Teach You the Power of Networking ..... 275
Chapter 76. Kid Power ..... 277
Chapter 77. It Isn's Only People Who Network ..... 279
Chapter 78. Q & A ..... 282
Chapter 79. A Few Leftover Networking Aphorisms I Have Known and Loved (and Begged and Borrowed and Stolen) ..... 286
Chapter 80. Some Final Dos and Don'ts ..... 288

Step Ten: Drinking from the Well...and Sharing the Wealth! ..... 293
Chapter 81. Stanley Marcus' Networking Story: What Goes Around Comes Around ..... 293
Chapter 82. Call Jack ..... 297
Chapter 83. The Last Word ..... 299


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Dig Your Well Before You're Thirsty: The Only Networking Book You'll Ever Need 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
GShuk on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Heard most of it before There are a few good points in the book but most of it is standard networking. He draws out his point way too much. Did not finish the book.
pzmiller on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Even though this book was written years ago before Facebook and MySpace, I recently reread it and the advice is still timely today.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best books I've read on networking, and the illustrating stories are great.
Guest More than 1 year ago
First of all I loved the title of the book. Very apt! Now for my opinion of the book. I think it is an excellent book for people who are running their own businesses and have established themselves in life. The only reason I did not quite get all my questions answered is because I am just about starting out with my career and needed some hard core advice on how to network in my workplace. I read the book start to end because the chapters were short and insightful and did not drag on. Harvey has this great ability to make a point and move on which made me read the entire book. I would highly recommend this book to business executives but not to people like me who are starting out and need advice on the basics of networking.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As a HOLLYWOOD screenwriter, my career lives or dies on networking. Harvey Mackay¿s book is the absolute Bible. If you live and work in Hollywood and don¿t have this book, don¿t let another thirty seconds go by before you hit the ¿Add to Cart¿ button! I¿d give anything to have Harvey Mackay mentor me personally.
Guest More than 1 year ago
We all know that change happens in the business world (ala 'Who Moved My Cheese') however what differentiates Mackay is his ability to offer solutions in lieu of problems. I would go one step further and say that many of his solutions are immediately applicable, and, if implemented, ease the pain of change. Furthermore, I would suggest that no sales professional should be without this book - Mackay understands why people buy and how to build the critical network so necessary for sales success in high end business. Lastly I would point out that he walks his talk - I have written him more than once and he personally responds to input. A critical volume in any business library !