The novelty of networking wore off quickly for me. All it took was a few of those people. You know them – they’ve handed you a card before a word has been uttered. Three flights up in your elevator pitch they’ve already checked out – scanning the room for their next card receptacle. They’re gross and they make me wish I were at home with my family. What a waste of my time.
When an esteemed colleague urged me to join her at a WINN meeting I only agreed out of respect for her. WINN (Women in NARI (National Association of the Remodeling Industry) Networking). Whew! That just sounds complicated, right? I was in a sorority in college and enjoyed it, but I’ve been exposed to enough caddy, female politics to steer clear. You can imagine my surprise when I walked out an hour and a half later feeling like my time had not been wasted. These women were incredible! They shared ideas and resources for growing and improving business. The fluff was minimal. I was hooked.
Early on in WINN’s evolution someone introduced us to Netweaving. Catchy word, huh? Wanna know more? Well, I’m happy to oblige:)
Have you ever seen or heard of the movie Pay It Forward? Well, Netweaving is a pay it forward approach to business. Instead of walking into an event thinking about who you can meet to benefit you, you walk into one looking to meet people who interest and impress you. Then, as your black book of resource contacts grows, you begin to connect people. You connect them because they have a common interest or it benefits them to know one another. You help people with no known personal gain.
Frankly, I don’t believe Bob Littel, Chief Netweaver, has invented anything new. What Bob has done is give a name to an exercise that some business people do naturally and suggest a practice for this exercise so that those who do not can. It’s brilliant in it’s simplicity. Bob is teaching/reminding business people to be good people. Yes, part of the concept is a belief that good things happen to those people who make good things happen, but the payoff is not guaranteed and it’s not a motivator. It must not be.
The WINNers took this concept and we began applying it to our group at every opportunity. One such opportunity was Christmas. We opted for a non-materialistic gift exchange. After drawing names, we contacted our giftee and set up a time to get to know her better. Then, after learning more about her business, her personal professional goals and/or her personal aspirations, we worked on gift ideas. Leslie sent me links to resources for marketing a blog and building readership. My giftee asked me to spend a couple of hours helping her set her new computer up. Some women hosted a Netweaving meeting, introducing their giftee to someone it behooves them to know. The gifts were specific and meaningful – we enjoyed the exchange so much!
We shared our stories at a meeting last week. Bob Littel (an Atlantan) even joined us to celebrate the efforts. I have rarely been in a room that oozed satisfaction like that one did:). When it was all said and done we had each gotten to know two members better (she we gave to and she who gave to us) and we had exercised our creativity generously. What a project!
I still guard my time. I don’t rush off to every event that crosses my inbox in the hopes that it will be another WINNer. Still, I’m glad I went to that meeting. I’m glad I’ve invested in a group of people I admire and enjoy. They’ve inspired me, supported me and befriended me in the past year and I value those relationships. They’ve replaced a hated chore (networking) with a healthy and welcome practice (Netweaving) that I can do every time I’m in a group of people. They’ve helped me grow, and that’s worth my time.
WINN never did land on the right thing to call our little project. What we’re doing isn’t Netweaving, that’s just a gift some of us chose to give and an attitude we’ve adopted. Here are the names we came up with. If anyone can come up with something better I’ll give them a “whatever the game is called” gift.
- Secret Santa with a Twist (this one had legs until “secret” made the getting-to-know-you pregame confusing…)
- Netweaving Santa (yeah, we just went over all that…)
There’s been talk about doing this quarterly, by the way, so taking the “Santa” out of the name is welcome.
ALSO GOOD TO KNOW: Netweavers are doing an event this April (more info to follow). The original plan involved people flooding local restaurants to have their meetings. I actually think that’s a great idea (can think of a few places I’d like to support), but the event has grown exponentially to include so many different meanings now (inter-office communications and the like) that it it has opened up to any(one/where) they can meet. Think about this…one day when all these people (who are more like you than they are different) are exercising their nice muscle right along with you…I wouldn’t mind sharing in an energy like that.