I’ve been reading the book Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi, and let me tell you, it’s as if the book was written to accompany the launch of Highrise, a remarkable shared online contact manager, released last week.

Keith is a world-class networker, and he’s written this book all about it. The more I read this book, the more I think of inspiring uses for Highrise.

Before I meet with any new people I’ve been thinking of introducing myself to, I research who they are and what their business is. I find out what’s important to them: their hobbies, challenges, goals—inside their business and out. Before the meeting, I generally prepare … a one-page synopsis on the person I’m about to meet. The only criterion for what should be included is that I want to know what this person is like as a human being, what he or she feels strongly about, and what his or her proudest achievements are.

Great use for the bio or notes you can add to your contacts in Highrise. Later, regarding meeting folks at conventions:

I generally knew who was coming… My office compiled simple bios of the VIPs who were coming in case I ended up meeting them or sitting next to them. My assistant prepared a few one-pages on the one or two individuals I especially wanted to meet. … This is all part of what I call just doing your homework.

Again, fits in perfectly with the Highrise philosophy. Mr. Ferrazzi goes on to talk about deciding upon a goal, and then making “lists” of the people you need to talk to to help you accomplish that goal. It makes a lot of sense, and would probably be a good fit for Cases in Highrise, since you can also add a “bio” and notes to the case itself. He goes on to talk about putting these to use to help with a product launch:

To create excitement around our product, I wrote down a list of people I called “influentials” – the early adopters, journalists, and industry analysts that help spread the initial buzz about a product or service. Next, I made a list of potential customers, potential acquirers, and people who might be interested in funding us down the road. … When you make such lists, it’s important you name the actual decision makers, and not just an organization. The point here is to have a readily accessible and specific list of names.

Finally, he actually talks about printing up some of these lists, and making sure he has them with him at all times. He’ll pull out the list in a cab, between meetings, and review details about the folks he’ll be talking to, or even just bumping into.

All in all, this is a great book, especially if you’re not quite an expert networker yet – which I’m not. I used to think of networking as a dirty word, but I’m feeling a lot better about it, reading this book.