Most people who attend networking functions are there for one reason — to promote themselves and their business. They go into the function looking for “What’s in it for me?” This focus results in individuals using the opportunity to sell themselves and not developing a relationship based on trust.
Instead, the “netweaving” concept, developed by Bob Littell of NetWeaving International, focuses on helping others and can easily be applied to CPAs trying to grow their network or business clients. Rather than looking for “What’s in it for me?” the NetWeaver, as he calls it, looks at “what’s in it for them.” A skilled NetWeaver is constantly on the lookout for ways to bring people together and to help people locate resources to meet their needs. NetWeavers act without regard for what they will receive in return.
Littell developed two key elements of NetWeaving. The first is learning to become a Strategic Connector of others — putting people together in win-win relationships — without gaining from the relationship. The second element of NetWeaving is learning how to position yourself as a Strategic Resource for others — or the “go to” person for getting something accomplished. Sometimes this means that you will be the resource provider. Other times it will mean that you will provide introductions from your Trusted Resource Network — a broad group of experts in diverse fields who have agreed to be a member of your network in exchange for you agreeing to be a part of theirs.
Instead of spending time talking about them, the NetWeaver will ask high-gain questions to discover information about another person. For example:
- How do you create revenue in your business?
- What does your best prospect look like?
- Tell me the story of how you landed your best client or customer?
- What are the strategic differentiators that make you unique?
- Who are the three or four people you would like to meet?
When communicating with other people, the NetWeaver is looking to determine:
- Is there someone I know who would benefit from knowing or meeting this person?
- Could this person provide information and/or resources to someone else I know?
- Has this person impressed me so much that I need to get to know them better, and if they continue to impress me with their exceptional value, should I make them part of my Trusted Referral Network?
The four levels of giving referrals in NetWeaving are:
- Loaning your good name. Allowing someone to use your good name as a means of entry.
- Loaning your good name plus a written introduction. Sending an email or a personal letter explaining why you think the two people would benefit from meeting, as well as a testimonial.
- Loaning your good name, plus a written and telephone introduction. Following up to further validate the importance of the person’s worth and the value of meeting the other person.
- Hosting the introduction. Hosting an in-person or virtual meeting and facilitating a discussion as to why each person will benefit from working together.
Netweaving is a softer approach to networking because it eliminates the need to “sell.” Instead, you are helping someone out and, in doing so, providing real value to that person as well as to yourself.