Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Book review: Coffee, Lunch, Coffee

A few months back, I had (appropriately enough) lunch with Alana Muller, who was just putting the finishing touches on a book entitled Coffee, Lunch, Coffee. Last week, a copy of her book landed in my mailbox. Alana calls it, "A practical field guide for master networking".
The title of Alana Muller's book refers to the single-minded way she went about building her own personal network. Her goal was to have three meetings a day; for coffee in the morning, lunch, then coffee again.
Ever the networker, Alana had arranged to meet me through a mutual friend, who knew that I'd recently written Build a Brand Like Trader Joe's. That friend thought I might have advice for a new author navigating the shifting waters of the publishing industry. She turned out to be gorgeous, smart, ambitious, and well-organized. (That goes a long way towards explaining why when she's not hawking her book, she's the President of the highly regarded Kaufmann FasTrac entrepreneurial training program, but that when I'm not hawking my books, I'm a shiftless advertising copywriter who takes his dogs on long walks during business hours.)

Before she headed the FasTrac program, she was a fast-rising young executive at Sprint. But the writing was on the wall at a company that had rarely been profitable and it was time for a change. The challenge: She'd spent her career in one company, and had few connections outside it. She turned building her personal network into her job. As you'd expect from an MBA grad, she embarked on her networking plan with due diligence, and documented every step.

Coffee, Lunch, Coffee is full of practical advice for anyone who is building a network of personal connections, whether their goal is to find their next career destination, as Alana's was, or whether they're individual entrepreneurs whose network is the first line of prospects. The advice is fine grained, and ranging from the very specific (never send out a LinkedIn invitation to connect using the default text, always write a personal note) to the nearly esoteric (how to breathe; yes, it makes a difference.)

Alana's organized hundreds of tips into a practical workbook full of simple exercises that will take socially inept types (e.g., me) through the steps required to build their own networks. Like my advice on building a brand like Trader Joe's, it's simple stuff -- though not necessarily easy, there's hard work involved and it takes perseverance and discipline. Coffee, Lunch, Coffee readers don't have to go it alone, however. They can download a spreadsheet to keep track of their progress, and refer to Alana's Coffee, Lunch, Coffee blog for ongoing advice. The book concludes with Alana's email address.

If you want to build your network of personal connections (or improve the one you have) this book's highly recommended. Signed and inscribed copies are available directly from the author for $20 here. The price includes free shipping.

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