In one "Peanuts" cartoon, Linus makes the mistake of telling his big sister Lucy that he wants to be a doctor when he grows up. Lucy is flabbergasted and laughs at him, saying, "You could never be a doctor! You know why? Because you don't love humankind!"

Linus responds: "I love humankind! It's people I can't stand!"

Many of us struggle with relationships, yet building relationships — networking — is one of the most important skills we need to develop.

It is so significant that the key line in my networking book, "Dig Your Well Before You're Thirsty," is this: "If I had to name the single characteristic shared by all the truly successful people I've met over a lifetime, I'd say it is the ability to create and nurture a network of contacts."

My passion for networking led me to a new book that I highly recommend. "What's in It For Them?" by Joe Polish shows how success comes from winning the right friends and influencing the right people. He has created a framework for filtering right-fit people from wrong-fit ones.

Each chapter explores core principles of connection and highlights key takeaways or "dominoes." There are specific exercises and action steps.

Polish is the founder of Genius Network, a high-level entrepreneurial group and connection network with the goal of building better entrepreneurs.

Polish is a big believer in my Mackay 66 Customer Profile (free on my website,, under Resources), which aims to get close to your customers, suppliers or anyone in your network.

Polish looks for the hot buttons that are key to people. He describes a dinner party with Sir Richard Branson where most of the attendees were asking serious questions about climate change, business strategy and so on.

Polish had done his homework and knew Branson signed the hard rock group the Sex Pistols when he ran Virgin Records, so Polish asked him what it was like to hang out with Sid Vicious and Johnny Rotten. He gained Branson's attention and his email address for future correspondence.

Another point in the book that stuck with me was situational awareness. Early in his career, Polish met with networking guru Dan Sullivan and commented that his company's marketing "sucked." Polish didn't realize that Sullivan's marketing director was also in the meeting.

Big mistake! You don't influence people by telling them what's wrong and how to fix it. You tell them what's right and how to enhance it. Bottom line, do your homework.

Polish points out that you want to be memorable in a positive way. The person who stands out often is the most likely to be remembered. He calls it the "Happy Client Experience," which means going above and beyond what is expected. I call this delivering more than you promise.

Networking is about appreciating people. Polish is in constant contact with all kinds of people — not just his close friends — sharing articles, videos, podcasts and jokes. It's a form of communication that helps him get things done and builds bonds through mutual appreciation.

The key for Polish is to get as close to in-person as you can. Strive to close the distance between you and another person by making all experiences with people as impactful as they can be. Send heartfelt notes instead of stock emails or messages. There's nothing better than the personal touch.

Mackay's Moral: Networking is not collecting contacts. Networking is about planting relationships.

Harvey Mackay is a Minneapolis businessman. Contact him at 612-378-6202 or email