April’s eye-catching contribution to Book of the Month is Pino Bethencourt’s ‘Success in six cups of coffee: How smart networking conquers hidden obstacles’ (2011). I nominated this snappy title because it leaped out from other new book arrivals in the library, not only because of its obvious use to business students, but that networking is a fundamental life skill relevant to all of us. As Bethencourt (2011: 4; 5) advises that ‘networking is perhaps the most critical skill for success in any executive’, suggesting that ‘good networking is useful for almost any goal in life: finding a wife or husband, planning the perfect vacation, selling your house or learning Chinese’. The fabled six degrees of separation is a proven technique to build purposeful relationships; six encounters where bonds are formed. Cultivating a diverse network of contacts ultimately boils down to confidence, as always. If you possess confidence then everything else follows. Taking advantage of every new human interaction might sound opportunistic, even cynical, but realising your networking potential by analysing your relationships and recognising your personal qualities, having a relaxed attitude, avoiding hard-sell, developing high-trust healthy relationships, showing understanding and care, knowing the benefits of socializing, making friends, building influence, knowing your strengths and weaknesses, becoming self-aware, demonstrating patience, and acknowledging the need to change, are valued qualities in any person. It’s also about taking personal responsibility, turning your world around so that you are empowered enough to influence your world rather it influencing you.

Bethencourt (2011: 3) postulates that the need for human connection in business is perhaps more natural than exploitative money-making: ‘Bonding is a millenary ritual of intimate exchange that requires attention to detail and respectful care’. Because it is natural it builds self-confidence too. There a lot of insightful psychology here, as Bethencourt (2011: 36)  identifies a fine line between being authentic and generating interest: ‘The law of reciprocity has been playing a key role in every relationship you’ve established up to now, even if it doesn’t show’. Six cups of coffee goes beyond face-to-face interaction. Bethencourt explores how human trust can develop over keypads and screens via an interview with Erik Wachtmeister, founder of the online communities ‘A Small World’ and ‘Best of all worlds’, the latter specialising in bringing together niche communities, with every chapter ending in a personal interview with an executive.  Bethencourt offers advice on telephone and email manner, valuing the ‘power of now’, personal SWOT analysis, and handling rejection through self-assessment rather than concentrating upon victimisation that only results in avoidance rather than honest action. Part of the success companies within BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China), for instance, lies within the recognition that they could not compete in mature markets (USA, UK, Netherlands, etc) so new markets evolved with double digit growth. Recognising strength and weaknesses is still a vital strategy in any business venture.

An example of understanding networks was illustrated by Greenpeace’s campaign against Japanese whaling.  Not realising that whale meat had saved the Japanese population from starvation after the second world war, they were inadvertently insulting the Japanese. So, they were advised to change their strategy to the more successful ‘now it is time for the Japanese to save the whales in return’ resulting in a globally publicised animation movie  (Bethencourt (2011: 79).

This book is located at 650.13 bet on the 2nd floor of the Library.