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Monday, August 16th, 2010

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3:40a
No, not like THAT ...
This is another of the review-copy books I've gotten (from the good folks at Wiley, if the FTC's listening) of late that seem to be focusing on, if not networking per se, at least elements that would go into successful networking. Frankly, this one's a bit of an odd duck, being more of a coaching book on getting what you want in business contexts, with a “30-day plan” for skill building in that area.

The Art of Business Seduction: A 30-Day Plan to Get Noticed, Get Promoted, and Get Ahead was written by Mark Jeffries, a former Merrill Lynch stockbroker, who found himself in need of a new profession back in the 90's, and managed to re-invent himself as a broadcaster, speaker, and communications consultant. As one would surmise from the sub-title, this is centered around a month-long self-training program which purports to bring one up to speed on what Jeffries refers to as his “surefire four-step process – L-WAR” (and, I hate to say it, there is a certain tone that hovers over this that brings to mind the classic Veg-o-matic TV pitches at times).

What is “Business Seduction”, you ask? Well, it's not about the cougar in the C-suite or the eye-candy down in IT … so get your mind out of the gutter!

“The lessons you'll learn from this book will train you how to get noticed for the right reasons by the right people. … The art of business seduction frees you to effortlessly connect with and influence others so that they not only come to believe that they want you and the services you offer, but even more impressive, they'll believe they need you for their own success.”
What is “L-WAR”? Simply the framework of Listen, Watch, Anticipate, and React. The 30-day program here is largely to get one into the habit of implementing the first two of these in a conscious and systematic way, which is then followed with suggestions of how to effectively do the latter two. When I noted above the “odd duck” nature of this, it's largely due to this “main part” of the book only taking up the first half. It suggests that Jeffries might have initially have intended “The Art of Business Seduction” to be a pay-to-download e-book, but that it got a bit long for that format … certainly the self-promotional over-tones here would be perfectly at home in those “squeeze pages” hawking the thousands of .pdf tomes out there which promise to enlighten the purchaser on any number of topics! I can imagine a scenario where an e-book project got sold to a regular publisher, on the basis on it being fleshed out to a more respectable “dead tree volume” length (in this case an even 200 pages).

While the “30-Day Plan” here certainly has value and appears to be a plausible approach to making one a more influential person, it's the second half of the book that I, personally, found the must useful information. From the “Networking Secrets” chapter, “The Five Stages of Successful Networking” (Establishing Trust, The Sell, The Promise, The Release, and The Follow-up) was of particular note, with one part of “The Sell” standing out, his discussion of “The Jealousy Reaction”, which is a subtle way of seeding in previous achievements that makes the person you're talking with suddenly feel they're missing out without your services!

There are other sections here on one's voice, appearance, and electronic communications, and one's “elevator pitch”, but none of these offer any great revelations to most folks, I'd think. There is also quite a bit about “reading body language” (of exactly the sort avoided in a previous book reviewed in this space) sprinkled through the book. Again, my reaction when getting half-way through this was to think “that's it?” and a lot of the rest does seem a bit like “filler”. However, between the core “L-WAR” material and the very valuable Networking chapter (itself taking up nearly a quarter of the page count), there is quite a lot here to recommend this.

The Art of Business Seduction is brand new (being released last month), so it will no doubt be available at your larger brick-and-mortar book vendors, and orderable via the rest. As usual, the on-line guys have it at a discount, and a few copies are kicking around the used channel (although at no great price break, you'd probably do as well to get it new as part of an Amazon/B&N order with free shipping). Again, this seemed useful enough, but with the caveats noted above ... its core concepts are dealing with social/business skills that would be helpful to anybody, but (to my reading) it's got "issues" that might have not been so glaring with some more aggressive editing.


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