By BOB LITTELL
Editor's Note: This is part II of a two-part article. You can read the first part here: http://salesandmarketing.com/article/selling-c-suite-meets-netweaving
As mentioned in Part II, there are two key skill sets of NetWeaving. The first involves connecting two persons with their needs, problems or opportunities in mind and only doing so after you confirm that both of them would value the connection. The second skill set of NetWeaving involves providing information and resources with no strings attached, which either you can provide personally through your own knowledge, experience and expertise, or through others within the trusted resource network that you have established over time.
What we have discovered over the past decade, is that the most powerful action step to maximize the power of NetWeaving involvessetting up meetings to introduce two persons to each other. Those connections can either be made virtually, where the NetWeaver just facilitates an exchange of bios so they can make a decision about whether the connection is one they would value and then leaves it up to the two parties to set up a meeting. The NetWeaver does request that they let him or her know the date and time of the meeting, and sometimes just shows up; or at least follows back up to see how the meeting went.
But without question, the most powerful form of NetWeaving involves not only setting up the meeting, but also hosting it – in person.
As noted earlier, the biggest single weakness of most salespeople is a lack of follow up and follow through. I distinguish between the two terms in this way: Following up involves selective listening to identify possible facts and relevant information as well as possible ways to be of help, and then physically making note of them in a timely manner so they are not lost.
The problem is that 80% of people don’t follow up. They don’t listen selectively so they can follow up in ways that would astound the person whom they just met. And of the ones who do follow up, few take any action on what they heard. They dutifully collect business cards, but do nothing to advance the relationship with the person they have just met.
The thing that only the most successful salespeople consistently do is to follow through. I define that as the creativity and theingenuity with which people follow up.
Following through might involve offering your resources or those of someone within your trusted resource network – on a totally gratuitous basis – just as a way to build the relationship.
But what has proven to be the most powerful way that NetWeaving can be used as a client/customer-strengthening relationshiptool, as well as a new business-development tool, is by learning how to set up and host meetings between a relevant executive or a successful business owner with someone on the outside whom he or she would benefit meeting. It’s always done by first providing information about the person to whom you plan to introduce them to, making sure they feel it’s worth their time. You usually will make the connection with that individual first to make sure you can successful match the two.
Sometimes you will identify the outside individual because he or she is well-known within the community. In other situations, it will be a newsmaker and you read an article about their company’s success or a new development of some kind they are bringing to market. What’s most interesting is that making these connections and the introduction to the person is usually very easy, so long as you pick two persons who strategically would benefit meeting and knowing each other.
The NetWeaver’s Quilt
Picture a quilt with individual squares – each representing a person. The bottom right-hand corner square is you. The top left-hand corner square is anyone in the world whom you want to meet. The three squares in the upper left hand corner adjacent to that targeted person’s square are either a gatekeeper (GK) or a gate opener (GO). They can either keep you out or help you get in. All the other squares represent someone who knows someone else within one of the squares, or who knows one of the gatekeepers or gate openers, or who personally knows the person whom you want to meet.
To the right of the Quilt is a vertical scale that represents power and influence. The higher up their square, the more likely their connection to another individual square or directly to a GO or GK, or to the key person will be effective.
The bottom horizontal scale represents commonalities – things any person in one of the square shares in common with the targeted individual (for example, they went to the same college; same fraternity or sorority, Rotarian, hobbies or interested in common, etc.). The farther to the left, the greater degree of things they share in common with the key individual or possibly with a GO or GK.
Each time you identify someone who can fill one of the squares, a NetWeaver first must find a way to help that person first in some meaningful way which would make the person want to reciprocate, and they seldom fail to do so.
Hosting a NetWeaving meeting for one of the individuals in one of the squares whom you have identified as knowing the targeted individual is almost a sure-fire way to subsequently be introduced to the key individual on a favorable basis. Just make sure that the meeting you host for the person close to Mr., Ms. or Mrs. Big, is of true value to them, or that the resources you or someone within your trusted resource network provide are considered to be of special value.
Why NetWeaving Works
C-Level executives and successful business owners are extremely busy and almost without exception are masters at managing their time efficiently. Something else almost all of them have in common is an intellectual curiosity about new information, concepts and other things that might directly or indirectly affect their business.
On top of that, they want to meet and know other successful executives and business owners. And while they may serve on non-profit or corporate boards with them, they often have never had the opportunity to sit down one-on-one with them to establish a deeper relationship.
This last weekend, I read an interesting article the Atlanta Business Chronicle about an unlikely duo who have gotten to know each other and actually become good friends – Ted Turner – a rabid environmentalist, and David Ratcliffe, Chairman and CEO of Southern Company, one of the nation’s large energy behemoths.
A number of years ago, the day after I had made a NetWeaving presentation at a fund-raising event for a local Atlanta hospital, I received a call from an attendee who said that after hearing me speak and telling her boss about NetWeaving, he wanted to have a one-on-one meeting to learn more about the concept. That turned out to be David Ratcliffe, who at the time was CEO of Georgia Power.
Enough said. Powerful people want information that will keep them ahead of the game, and they want to meet other powerful people because they know that in the long-run, the real power is not just in knowing other powerful people, but having them get to know you. Some of them learned and were practicing NetWeaving long before I came up with a word for it.
Arthur Blank, co-founder of Home Depot and owner of the Atlanta Falcons as well as a billionaire philanthropist, is also the testimonial on the front cover of the 2ndof three books written on NetWeaving – “The Heart and Art of NetWeaving.” Blank, upon reviewing the draft of the book manuscript with a request for a testimonial from him, stated, “I’ve been doing this my whole life. I just never had a word for it.”
Another great fan of NetWeaving is one of the country’s top sales and marketing gurus – Jeffrey Gitomer. In his book “The Little Black Book of Connections,”Jeffrey wrote:
“The interesting part is that when you become involved in NetWeaving, you get into a new business frame of mind. It makes you aware of the needs of others and at the same time challenges you to draw on your full range of contacts. The challenge is as great as the reward. Proof? I’ve seen it personally. And in two events, I’ve never seen so much power in a room. Not necessarily powerful people, but rather people with the power to help others. It’s a business sight to see. And when someone offers their help, you can’t help but want to help others.”
All I have done is identify some skill sets, strategies and action steps that successful persons across all industries and professions and who are givers and not takers have already been employing. But those who recognize them as such begin doing much more and that’s where the real success lies because people learn that good things happen to those people who make good things happen.
So if you not only want to find the best ways to be invited into C-Level executives suites and the offices of successful business owners, but to become a permanent part of their trusted resource network and an informal member of their strategic planning team, make NetWeaving a bigger part of your life – both from a business as well as a personal standpoint.
Bob Littell is Chief NetWeaver. The site is www.netweaving.com.