Posted by: vallonllc | February 13, 2011

Networking is a Contact Sport

New York Times Best Selling Author Joe Sweeney visited Minneapolis this past week. He wrote the book Networking is a Contact Sport. Joe also went to Edgewood High School in Madison, so it was great to have a mini-reunion and to hear Harvey Mackay’s introduction.

Sweeney is a master networker and both reminded us of the spirit behind great networking and have us four steps to make it come alive for each of us. Joe reminded us that networking is about who you can help, not what you can get. The best networkers constantly and consistently ask themselves how they can help. 

Effective networking is becoming more critical in these difficult times. The natural response in difficult times is to pull back and become more defensive and careful. We all want to be part of something bigger than ourselves and times of crisis give us the opportunity to reach out and expand into places that need us. People will rarely remember what you did to them. They will always remember how you made them feel. 

Joe outlined a four-step process that any of us can use to improve our networking capabilities. Following the steps and practicing on a regular basis can create great results. 

The first step is to ask with a spirit of giving. The question is always how can I help? Reaching out, connecting with people, and discovering how to help is the way to get the networking magic started. 

Step two is to listen. All great networkers are terrific listeners. They not only hear the words that are being spoken; they understand the non-verbal signals and the true meaning behind the words. That puts the networker in the position to meet the true needs being expressed. 

After asking and listening comes step three: Acting. Most people ask. Many people listen. Very few people ask, listen, and act. Most people get to that third step and freeze. They freeze out of uncertainty or they freeze out of fear. In either case, they never have the desired impact because they never take action. Take action and move forward with courage. Watch what happens! 

Finally, step for is to believe and receive. If you are following the steps and taking action to help people reach their goals, that energy and action will return itself to you. Make sure you are giving, giving, and giving a bit more. That posture puts you in position to receive the returns from that giving. Stop too soon – or stop believing – and you may not reach your goals. 

Remember networking is all about the other person. Give generously. Never keep score. Continuously try to help. Always be appreciative. Networking is a contact sport. Get in the game and make good things happen! 



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