Networking Is A Contact Sport!
My friend, John Celentani, gave me the book, Networking Is A Contact Sport, by Joe Sweeney with Mike Yorkey. John knows that I read, write and speak a lot about networking. Thanks John for this great gift!
I value Joe Sweeney’s ideas and advice because they’re smart, simple, proven and powerful. His success exemplifies the book’s promise about how staying connected and serving others will help you grow business, expand your influence, and even land your next job.
Joe’s experience and success is based on networking in positions as an investment banker, owner of manufacturing companies, and founder of a sports management firm for over 28 years. He is proudly one of nine kids. He beats my family by one sibling.
We share Irish roots and a love for people and the networking creed of giving first with no expectations of reciprocation. So I was particularly impressed and wanted to share Joe’s basics of good networking (I added point topics to make it more readable):
- Attending events – When you attend a business function, community mixer, or social event, identify those you want to network with. If possible, try and get the online list of attendees or arrive early to see name tags on the welcome table.
- Room surveillance – When you arrive, survey the room and make a mental list of the top 10 people you want to connect with. Don’t leave the most important person for last or he may depart early or be fatigued with talking by the time you introduce yourself.
- Everyone counts – Consider every encounter as a touch point and an opportunity to learn, grow or even land an engagement. You never know who will be the golden client or a network source to that client, which is why you treat everyone with equal respect.
- Identify objectives – Know exactly what you want to accomplish with each touch you make at an event. Is someone a potential clients, referral or connector? Objectives will help you optimize your time.
- Understand your targets and touches – Know the difference between a lead, a prospect, a client or customer. This is another tool for optimizing your time.
- Mind your manners – Don’t interrupt a conversation, but connect with your eyes or put a hand on the shoulder as you walk by. Sometimes it’s not easy to break into the conversation, so station yourself nearby without being intrusive. Be patient and you will be “brought” into the conversation.
- Be inquisitive – When you’re introduced to a person for the first time, pretend to be a tactful and inquisitive reporter looking for valuable information about a client or prospect. It’s okay to “interview” someone. You can’t go wrong by starting a question this way, “What do you think of [insert topic]?”
- Be riveting – Ask compelling questions that connect you with your target and demonstrate knowledge and insight into his world. It helps to be well-read, giving you a leg up on the competition. Don’t forget it takes practice to ask good questions, so start practicing.
- Sell softly – Soft selling works better than hard sales at network events. Nobody likes to be arm twisted into making a commitment, especially at a public or social function. Let your followup a few days after start the selling process. A goal of networking is to make a friend not just a sale.
- 5/10/15 Up – Work the Sweeney 5/10/15 Personal Accountability System into your everyday work schedule. It will feel good to set daily goals and meet them. That program will give you structure and show consistent progress in your networking efforts. (Download the 5/10/15 system from Joe’s site.)
So those are the contact sport of networking basics: smart, simple, proven and powerful ideas and practices from one of the most accomplished networkers and successful businessmen, Joe Sweeney. Thanks John and Joe for this valued book!
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