How well do you network?
Do you build reciprocal relationships that last years, perhaps a lifetime?
If you have room to improve this vital skill, Joe Sweeney is here to help.
Joe Sweeney is a former owner and now a strategic director at Corporate Financial Advisors, LLC, a middle-market investment banking firm which specializes in providing merger and acquisition advisory services, capital sourcing, exit planning, and general corporate advisory services.
Prior to acquiring an equity position in Corporate Financial Advisors, he was founder and president of SMG, a sports marketing and management firm that specializes in assisting and representing dozens of coaches and pro athletes (including three-time NFL MVP Brett Favre) in securing lucrative contracts and marketing deals.
Based on the success of his New York Times bestseller, #2 Wall Street Journal and #1 USA Today top selling business book, Networking Is a Contact Sport, Joe has given hundreds of keynote addresses worldwide to a variety of businesses and top corporations such as CUNA Mutual, General Electric, Merrill Lynch, Milwaukee Bucks, Minnesota Wild NHL team, Morgan Stanley, Northwestern Mutual, RBC, Travelers Insurance, UBS, Wells Fargo, and numerous universities.
As a result of the feedback Joe received from his talks and training in the corporate world, he has written the book, Moving the Needle: Get Clear, Get Free, and Get Going in Your Career, Business, and Life! released in November, 2014 and rated on Forbes as one of The 6 Best New Career Books for 2015. Moving the Needle is a transformational guide to help individuals and businesses get clear, get free, and get going in their career, business, and life.
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Networking: The 4-Step Process
A few years ago, I had the opportunity to make somebody else’s dream come true. A single mother I knew who was struggling to get by wanted more than anything to send her son to a private Milwaukee high school, but there was no way she could afford to pay tuition. Even though I had no salary coming in at the time, I threw caution to the wind and wrote out a check to cover his tuition. I would just have to get creative in order to earn that extra income back in a year that was already looking extremely thin. But what happened instead? Within an hour of writing that check, I won almost that exact same amount from a raffle ticket I didn’t even buy!
If you ask me, networking is all about giving. When you truly give to others without any expectations and strings attached, you will receive much more than you ever could have expected. I’ve long believed that miracles will happen when you give of yourself and allow life to work its natural course without manipulating the outcome.
I believe networking gives you confidence to interact with others, teaches resiliency, and helps you overcome challenges in life. The concept of engaging others with an attitude of giving, not getting, will enrich your relationships and your life.
To help you become a better networker, I’d like to introduce a very simple four-step process. In fact, it seems so simple and so easy that it’s almost embarrassing to map out. But don’t be fooled. While it sounds simple, it’s tough to do. It’s much like losing weight. All you have to do is eat less and exercise more. Piece of cake, right? Even still, over 30% of Americans suffer from obesity.
So with no further adieu, the four steps are:
- Believe and Receive
You have to learn how to ask good questions. Since relationships deepen through face-to-face contact, the ability to make interesting and thought-provoking inquiries can turn you into an excellent conversationalist and strong networker. When you are asking for something, you’ve got to find a way to do so with a mindset of giving. You have to ask persistently. You have to ask creatively. You have to ask outside the box. And at the end of all this, you have to make asking just outright fun.
Many people think great networkers are great talkers. In fact, they’re not. They’re really great listeners. When you engage in a conversation with someone, listen actively. Listen intuitively. Listen to that quiet voice within you. Listen closely to what is really being said. Remember, God gave you two ears and one mouth – use them in proportion.
Be the person who always follows up. Many of us ask and listen, but we don’t act. It all boils down to fear, so you need to ask yourself “What’s the worst possible thing that could happen?” Feel the fear, and do it anyway. Those who offer to take action and follow through are worth more than gold – and never forgotten.
Believe and Receive
Have faith in yourself and in what you’re doing. Have faith that when you truly give to others, you’ll receive more than you’ll ever give. When you’re open to answers that you didn’t know existed, great things will happen.
What makes the four-step process such a challenge is that the whole idea of networking as a place you go to give, and not get, is counter-intuitive. Most of us are pretty self-centered and what I’m asking you to do in this process is get outside yourself and put the focus on others.
By applying these four steps to your everyday life, they will not only transform you into a better networker, but they will also help you become better connected, grow your business, and give your life greater meaning.
Written by Joe Sweeney