Customer Reviews: Dig Your Well Before You're Thirsty: The Only Networking Book You'll Ever Need
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on October 6, 2004
Harvey Mackay's book approaches the practice of networking in a wide sense: strategies for initiating and maintaining relationships at any stage of your life with as many people as possible from as many walks of life as possible in as many situations as possible for a variety of different ends, both for yourself and for the people you network with.

The book is divided into ten sections (Mackay calls them steps) which play upon the well metaphor:

1. Jump In, the Water's Fine! - reasons why you should network (26 pages)

2. Time To Prime The Well! - starting out with the right approach to networking (23 pages)

3. Start Digging! - building the foundation of your networking: the essential elements of a network and basic networking strategies (45 pages)

4. Sharpen Your Edge! - refining your networking skills (35 pages)

5. Excavate Your Unique Skills! - recognizing and using your personal uniqueness to your advantage to build your network (31 pages)

6. Dig Deeper! - refining your networking using your personal uniqueness (29 pages)

7. Don't Fall In! - networking pitfalls: how not to network (23 pages)

8. Minding The Well! - maintaining your network (39 pages)

9. All's Well That End's Well! - additional insights into networking (27 pages)

10. Drinking from the Well ... and Sharing the Wealth! - final thoughts/summary (7 pages)

The book is very useful as a roadmap for utilizing all your relationships: it prompts you to think about where you could go with virtually every relationship you've ever had. Therefore, the older you are and the more people you already know, the more this book will probably speak to you.

However, for people wanting to network to gain business prospects and convert them into customers in the near future, the book is limited. For instance, of Mackay's top 4 places for building your network (Alumni Clubs, Industry Associations, Social Clubs, and Hobbies) only one of them (Industry Associations) seems to be a viable way of getting business prospects sooner rather than later. A reviewer of Mackay's book on commented "this (book) is more an autobiography of Mackay's networking than the art of networking itself." It's challenging to keep in touch with people you've met at networking events and maintain meaningful relationships. Mackay's chapter on keeping in touch with your network speaks to maintaining ties that are already well established, but these tactics would come off as unctuous and inappropriate with people you barely know but want to have a greater relationship with.

Mackay does have strategies for establishing ties with new people. However, I find his approach distasteful. Mackay encourages establishing rapport with people you want to reach by finding personal facts about them and shamelessly initiating conversations with them. Mackay actually reads a periodical called Who's Who which details the personal lives and accomplishments of executive America. When he meets someone he's read up on he initiates the conversation with this personal information as if he were a good buddy ole pal come round to visit. In the same way, Mackay advises that when you meet a couple you have not met before, ask how they met; they will begin to tell you the story of their lives, and you quickly have new best friends. Does this approach really work with most people? Another Amazon reviewer has similar reservations about Mackay's sincerity: "His book reminded me too much in spots of the old Sicilian (i.e. mafia) saying: "I don't do favors, I accumulate debts." Or as that saying is illustrated in The Godfather by Mario Puzo in the wedding scene of the book, where Michael Corleone is telling his future wife, Kay, about Don Corleone; Kay says to Michael: "Everything you've told me about him [Don Corleone] shows him doing something for other people. He must be good hearted..." And Michael answers, "I guess that's the way it sounds. But let me tell you this. You know those Arctic explorers who leave caches of food scattered on the route to the North Pole? Just in case they may need them some day? That's my father's favors. Some day he'll be at each one of these people's houses, and they'd better come across." That's the mentality that is projected throughout much of DIG YOUR WELL BEFORE YOU'RE THIRSTY. But then Mark MacCormack, who wrote WHAT THEY DON'T TEACH YOU AT HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL, said that The Godfather by Mario Puzo is one of the best business manuals ever written. What's that tell you about the business world? Since that is perhaps the reality of the business world, this book should prove quite helpful for dealing with it."

However, Mackay offers a number of interesting strategies and insights for networking for prospects. Mackay says the greatest networkers of all are American presidents, providing anecdotes about the strategies of George HW Bush Sr., Clinton, Nixon, Eisenhower and Lyndon Johnson. He notes how small countries like Israel and South Africa networked their way into media prominence whereas larger countries who lack such media savvy are routinely ignored. One of Mackay's most striking insights is that "its lonely at the top" and how you can take advantage of that. He relates the story of Scoops ice cream shop who offered Hollywood stars only "a scoop of ice cream" for attending their store opening. They received signed pictures from stars like Frank Sinatra and Robert DeNiro. By the same loneliness token, many executives are more communicative and approachable than you'd think. Consquently, when Mackay tries to reach an executive's office and encounters a gatekeeper receptionist, he discusses strategies for working with the gatekeeper rather than circumventing them to access the executive.

While it's questionable how much you can learn about and access the executive through the receptionist, it's a strategy worth trying a few times. It's certainly good practice to get to know better placed people in a company who aren't necessarily decision makers. Virtually every person I've ever met at networking events who call me afterward, wanting to reach the company president, do exactly the opposite. They only want to use me as a company directory and hurdle me. I find this offensive - why would I refer a complete unknown to the president and put my reputation on the line in doing so? But more importantly, these people are passing up an excellent insider source of company information: me. I've found the tell-tale sign of these sorts of people is their reaction when you ask them to give in some way: give me an indication that you are skilled, trustworthy, reputable, know your industry; show an interest in wanting to know about me, the company, what we do, etc. I remember one person who really showed her colours when she tried to `hurdle' me on her way to the president. I even offered her a lot of information on what the president would probably want for a PR campaign, and asked for her input. Yet she still didn't do a single thing to work with me and develop the plan and disappeared completely. If she had shown a willingness to work with me rather than against me, I surely would have given her a personal referral to the president, and she would have had insider information for the basis of a PR campaign to approach him with. Another guy e-mailed me, asking to access my network because (according to him) I could offer them the benefit of his fine financial advisory services. I wrote back to him, asking if we could discuss some sort of trade of contacts where he could tap only the people he needed in my network (IE the people I knew would want to hear about his services) and I could tap only the people I needed in his network (people who need my products/services). I never heard back from him. He showed he was purely out for himself, uninterested in any reciprocity. Why would I refer someone like that to my contacts?

Despite Mackay's questionable sincerity in forging new relationships, his networking ethics are sound. For instance, I agree with his four basic elements of networking, encapsulated by the acronym RISK: Reciprocity, Interdependency, Sharing and Keeping At It. Further, he illustrates the importance of honesty and full disclosure with his anecdote of keynoting a meeting of the top 500 customers of Corning, the glassware company. Before Mackay's speech, Corning surveyed the audience on virtually every aspect of their product line via a push button, anonymous poll. After the poll, Corning actually laid all the poll results bare in front of that audience, favourable or unfavourable. The Corning rep then said that they now knew what work had to be done. Mackay said it was the first time he'd seen customers "who were ready to climb over their chairs to place their orders." Mackay also notes Dale Carnegie's truism: "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."

Closely related to being honest with others is being true to yourself. Mackay strongly advocates doing what you love and using it as a way to network, in his case golf, and how far that alone took him in building his network. Not coincidentally, Mackay says that the greatest networking organization in the world is also one of the most personal: Alcoholics Anonymous. An anecdote from Muhammad Ali has him meeting a photographer from Life magazine who specialized in underwater photography. He said that the recently turned pro Ali had no chance of getting in Life. Ali used this man's speciality to his own advantage, telling the photographer that he practiced his boxing underwater as a training method, even though he barely knew how to swim. The result was an innovative picture spread in Life of Ali shadowboxing underwater.

In a similar way, Mackay is also emphatic about another way of being true to yourself and using it to your advantage: networking with the people close to you. That includes neighbours, colleagues, relatives, even those close to the people you want to reach - wives, children, and so on.

Mackay has good advice on how to approach networking as a newcomer. He advocates joining a Toastmasters chapter as a great preparation for networking. He prescribes 16 types of people essential to anyone's network. He mentions a few preferred contact management software titles. He also helps you distinguish good from bad networking - networking vs. gossip, social vs. business networking. He provides a networking self assessment test and even points how the differences between how men and women network. Perhaps the book can be best summed up with a quote Mackay provides:

"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
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on August 10, 1997
What single characteristic is most ubiquitously shared by truly successful people? According to Harvey Mackay, it is the ability to create and nurture an effective network of contacts. In his book Dig Your Well Before You're Thirsty, Mackay teaches us the importance of networking and provides us with practical advice on how to network effectively.

Mackay's perspectives on this otherwise common-sense topic are important in two respects. First, Mackay's approach toward one's network as a vibrant, organic body that requires disciplined, focused attention is compelling. He is particularly effective in advising us on how to grow a network and nurture key contact information. Secondly, Mackay's emphasis on the value of networking to help others, and not only one's self, is refreshing. In this capacity, Mackay is particularly motivational in that he encourages us to expand our own personal contacts as a vehicle to assist others.

Read this book, add this critical success strategy to your personal repertoire, and enjoy life more
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on February 9, 2000
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and believe, at least for me, that it is truly the only networking book I'll ever need. The stories are relevant analogies which add to the author's message.
With that said, most of what is covered are common sense ways of networking, which I found to be the underlying message of the book - "treat others with dignity and respect, show genuine concern in them, their careers, and their families, and stay in touch." Apply these simple concepts and you will have all the contacts you will ever need.
There are some unique networking approaches Harvey shares with the reader. Those are worth the price of the book alone. I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to others based on my belief that it serves as reinforcement of what most of us really know.
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on November 17, 2013
Certainly a good read. In the same vein as "How to make friends & influence people" by Dale Carnegie. Unlike quite a few authors of this genre, he does not resort to pseudo-intellectualism and silly antics. The author is obviously a good salesman in real life and makes a very good pitch for what he believes in, in writing. The book is written in style of someone making a presentation to a room full of people. He knows how to tell a good story without rambling. His personal prejudices do sneak through very occasionally and at places the book dates itself. The short chapters are convenient as one can easily read for a few minutes at a time. An occasional example/anecdote does make one wince due to its near street language/manner.
All in all, time well spent and one comes away feeling that something useful has been learnt.
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on September 1, 1997
"How many people could I realistically count on to help me if I called at 2:00 A.M.?" This is the question Harvey Mackay poses in his fourth book, Dig Your Well Before You're Thirsty. In the 300 pages that follow, Harvey Mackay shares a lifetime of networking tips with his readers. Mackay writes from experience, having established a successful envelope business and from years as an active fundraiser in Minneapolis. Written with humor and wit, Mackay shares anecdotes from the likes of Muhammad Ali, Lou Holtz, Erma Bombeck and Larry King. This book is a must read for corporate CEOs, middle managers, entry level workers, college students and anyone else who hopes to maximize life's opportunities
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on December 16, 2007
As a consultant and coach, I have to do a lot of networking myself. I also coach people who get tired of shaking all those hands and giving out all those business cards.

Many books on networking give you clichéd information that you knew already. What Harvey Mackay does is much more than that. He shares his experiences from the time his career began to the international success he enjoys today and shows how networking made him who he is. The examples are clear and will give you truthfully everything you'll ever need to know about how to network successfully. Furthermore Mackay has a wonderful sense of humor. You'll laugh aloud as you learn.
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on July 8, 2007
Dig Your Well Before You're Thirsty is one of the best networking books I have read ("Never Eat Alone" is another great one) and one of the most important books for anyone who wishes to get ahead. Having a solid network of people will do more for your career advancement than almost anything you can do. Harvey Mackay list the top-ten most important things a network can do. Here are a five of those:
1) A network replaces the weakness of the individual with the strength of the group
2) A network can enrich your life anywhere in the world
3) A network can help you help others
4) Job security? Don't rely on the corporation. Rely on your network
5) A network expands your financial reach infinitely

Mackay goes in great detail on how to build solid networks by adding value to others and keeping in touch. He believes that the most valuable tool in your office is your Rolodex. Harvey Mackay certainly knows what he is talking about, not only does he write books and give speeches, he has built an incredible company, in the envelope business, with over 100 million in annual revenue. He did this by learning EVERYTHING he could possibly know about his clients, not just their order history and size of company, but also the owners favorite sport, team, children's names, ages, spouse's name, where they grew up, what they are passionate about, what they are proud of, etc, etc. In this book he teaches us how to ask for that information, how to maintain the data fresh and how to use it to grow our networks.

My favorite quote from the book is: "No salesperson who knew the names of his customer's kids ever went broke." This is as true as: No person who reads this book and applies its principles will ever go broke. Enjoy!
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on July 24, 2001
Are you ready to lose your job? How long would it take for you to get a new job? If you had an emergency, how many people would loan you the cash, and how long would it take them to get it to you? How is your network?
Mackay teaches you the importance of network and how to build your own network of people. Before reading this book I was of the opinion that if you work hard, people will notice and you will get places. Silly me. I had just started graduate school (Masters of Information Systems) when I read this book. What an eye opener. I was also just starting some work at a start-up dot-com company. I was doing software testing and at the bottom of the rung of a 15 person company. The founders of the company were big into computer games (one of my fortes). I took Mackay's advice and decided to form a friendship with the big-wigs of an up-and-coming company. I bought the game and formed a friendship with them. These bonds are still strong to this day and have helped me climb the ladder as the company has grown to over 200 employees.
Don't think this is a cure-all. Many of the ideas presented in the book are common sense. He gives you the principles and some examples and then you must devise your own way to build your network. Mackay made me a believer in the "who you know" theory. There are a hundred other guys with my same qualifications, but people will turn first to the people they like or admire. Mackay teaches you to be first in line.
My review makes the driving force behind this sound selfish. And, to an extent, networking is in part, selfish. Mackay teaches you how networks should be used to help others as well as yourself. If your heart is in the right place, the network will not crumble. People know your true intentions (if not now, they will know later).
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on October 9, 2006
We've all heard that Networking is a vital activity of any entrepreneur, but do we believe it? And if we believe it, how do we go about networking? Dig Your Well Before You're Thirsty by Harvey Mackay will tell you just how - and why you do it in case you still haven't figured why. The inside cover reads, "The Only Networking Book You'll Ever Need." Never was a truer statement ever written.

First, I must extol the virtues of the writer. I have personally met Harvey Mackay several times, and I have heard him speak on several occasions - he knows what he's talking about, trust me. He can tell you story after story of how networks has helped him and others accomplish one amazing feat after another, many of these stories can be found in this book. Further, he speaks both from his head and heart and has a sincere interest in virtually everyone's personal success; all this this makes him the perfect teacher for networking.

In this book you'll find chapters such as, "Network As If Your Life Depended On IT, Because IT Does," "The Four Best Places to Go Prospecting," and "Harvey's Top-Ten List of the Best Ways to Stay in Touch with Your Network." Every Chapter has great advice and insight that comes from the very master of networking himself.

If you're not convinced, go to the library and take a quick look at the first few pages of another one of Harvey's books entitled, Sharkproof. Inside you'll find the testimonials of twenty, thirty, and more of the nation's most well-known and influential individuals endorsing his book. How did Mackay get so many influential people to endorse his book? Take a good guess - and read the book.
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on April 29, 2007
I have to say, although I have gotten my Ph.D. degree in computer science and have worked around 3 years, I am a beginner in term of networkig (not the computer network). As a beginner, I really love this book because it answers the following questions using real and good stories:

1. What is the network.
2. Who should be in the network.
3. How to meet a new people and make him/her part of your network.
4. How to let others to remember you.
5. Where to start your networking.
6. How to keep your network.

I really enjoy it.
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