Where did I learn ‘networking’?
I didn’t go to college to learn networking.
I didn’t take symposiums to learn networking.
I learned networking growing up in a family of 12 people.
One of the things I learned growing up in a large family was that if you didn’t learn to get along with others, and if you didn’t learn to watch out for each other’s back, you weren’t going to be a happy camper.
My parents goal and objective seemed simple: to have a baby girl. Well, I have to say they are the most persistent people I’ve ever met.
They ended up having nine straight boys until the tenth child was finally a girl.
It was a typical Irish Catholic family. I was the youngest of the nine boys, and one of the things I’ve learned is that in order to be a happy camper, you needed to watch other people’s backs. Even though I had to be a natural networker earlier in life, it’s still something I do every single day. I’m the ninth boy born in our family, and I had to fight for food and had to fight for attention.
My ‘Aha’ moment in life really occurred in 1966 when my third oldest brother, Tim, was vying for a position on the Notre Dame football team.
Our family was visiting Notre Dame at the time, and, to this day, I can’t tell you what compelled me, but I sprinted up three flights of stairs, knocked on the door of this legendary coach’s office and was able to see him for five minutes.
(For those of you who don’t remember, Ara Parseghian was the finest football coach in the country at the time. Not only was he on all the football and sports magazines, he was on the cover of Time Magazine. In our living room at home, we had a picture of that Time Magazine which was framed, and we would look at that picture often.)
In that 5-minute conversation, I asked him if he would give my brother a scholarship!
He smirked and said “I’ll see what I can do.”
I came back downstairs and my brothers were looking for me… “Where were you?” they said.
“I was up talking to Coach Parseghian.”
“Yeah right! What were you talking to him about?”
I said I was negotiating a scholarship for my brother Tim.
“You did not.”
(They didn’t believe me.)
So I took all my brothers up and introduced them to this legendary coach.
The ‘Aha’ moment happened in my life as we were walking back to the seminary and all my brothers were high-fiving me.
The reason they were high-fiving me?
It was the first time in my life I was making a difference and a contribution to our family – I was trying to help my brother Tim get a scholarship by networking.
What I learned from that was the beauty and the secret to great networking:
Networking is a place where you go to give and not get.
At that moment, it became crystal clear how much better you feel by helping others and thinking of others, instead of yourself.
Why is networking such a timely issue today?
If you look back over the last several years, we’ve had economic ups and downs. Regardless of what business/industry you’re in, we have all have been impacted by the economic swings.
Any time that we have an economic downturn, we have a tendency of pulling in. What I want you to do is reframe what you’re doing and what you’re experiencing, because now is the time where you really need to expand and reach out.
I think all businesses today are looking at their bottom lines. I’m currently on 7 boards of directors and we’ve gone through line by line with each company that I’m involved in trying to figure out how to cut costs. That’s a good temporary solution, but in order for companies to really prosper, we need to focus on the top line and that means getting out, expanding our network and really connecting with our customers again.
(If you want to easily make your sales quotas, have a lot more fun doing business, and don’t want to chase prospects that ignore your emails or phone calls, then this will be the most important letter you ever read.)