Networking is the only profession I know where a kid fresh out of college can team up with a multimillionaire for strategizing and mentoring. New recruits at General Electric don’t get to sit down with Jack Welch on a monthly basis, regardless of their performance. Networking is different because it connects the hungry student with the accomplished professional.
I use the word hungry intentionally because, as Chris Brady and I stated in our book Launching a Leadership Revolution, at the beginning of all leadership is hunger. No one can stop you from winning if you are hungry, and no one can help you win if you’re not hungry. One of my mentors used to say, “It is easier to teach a hungry person how to be sharp than it is to teach a sharp person how to be hungry.”
Are you hungry and driven? If you are, perhaps now is the time you join the Networking Revolution. The term was coined by Randy Gage when he released his Manifesto for the networking profession in January 2009. Art Jonak made it the theme of his latest Mastermind event, where I was introduced to the concept and together with my business partner Chris Brady, bought into the vision.
Revolutions require leaders, and true leaders are in short supply. Before you can lead, you must first learn to perform. A simple acronym we use in networking is STP: Share The Product, Show The Plan. People must master these prospecting skills before they can graduate into leadership. Mastery of the basics leads to confidence and competence, both necessary ingredients for leadership.
But even sponsoring a lot of people is not enough if you desire to build a large and lasting organization. This will only happen when you as a leader learn to build a healthy culture. The culture of an organization is the underlying principle by which the organization lives and breathes.
The Jan/Feb 2010 issue of Networking Times featured an interview with Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, who clearly understands the importance of creating a productive culture for long-term success. If you want to create long-term success in your organization, be sure to read this article.
Culture is built less by what you say or by what you do than by who you are. Culture is an extension of the leader’s character into the ethos of the organization. Ralph Waldo Emerson stated it this way:
“An institution is the lengthened shadow of one man.”
There is a profound truth in Emerson’s words: if the leader cuts corners, the culture will cut corners; conversely, if the leader demonstrates character, then character propagates throughout.
Do you desire to lead in the Networking Revolution? If so, what type of shadow are you casting over your organization? Your character matters, as does providing leadership and a culture for the hungry.
If it is true that opportunity lies in obscurity, then the networking profession could not be riper for the picking: unconventional, often maligned or misunderstood, networking is the crouching tiger lurking in the bushes.
There was a time when the tiger was out in the open, when he was not simply full of potential but in actual hot pursuit of mainstream recognition. In the eighties, networking was tracking with two other emerging megatrends: franchising and mass merchandizing (more commonly known as Big Box stores). All three models had emerged from relative obscurity to revolutionize how business was done. They were each headed for dominance with the momentum of linebackers sacking a quarterback.
But something happened: one of these three, our beloved networking, lost its way. Those who should have led it to prominence didn’t focus on the task at hand, instead getting stuck in side trips and self-interest. Meanwhile, the other two concepts not only became mainstream, they have now become defining models for retailing products and services.
Fortunately, networking has found a second birth. Emergent technologies and the public’s acceptance of e-commerce have once again revealed the genius behind the networking concept. In a changing economy, owning one’s own business and becoming financially self-determining have become more popular and compelling than ever. Economic uncertainty and corporate apathy have spawned a whole new generation of entrepreneurs ready to “go rebel” and take responsibility for their own financial security. Most importantly, leaders with vision are stepping forward to lead this profession into a bright and promising future. It is for those emerging leaders that this Networking Revolution column is intended.
One of those leaders making waves throughout the profession is my long-time business partner and co-author Orrin Woodward, who will be sharing the responsibilities of this column. Together, we intend to not only bring to light the honor that is due this profession, but also to deliver the principles and techniques necessary to put the networking tiger firmly back into the hunt for prominence in serving retail customers.
The potential is staggering, considering the value inherent in owning one’s own business, earning according to one’s performance, determining one’s own schedule, helping others, accomplishing lifetime dreams, and making a positive difference in the lives of individuals and in society in general.
What could be more valuable? What could have more market appeal? What could possibly permeate all levels of society any faster? Networking stands alone at the edge of game-changing potential. It is now nearly thirty years behind its two former running mates. The vast opportunity of closing a thirty-year gap ought to fill every true networker with excitement and determination. It’s time to pounce! Welcome to the Networking Revolution.
ORRIN WOODWARD and CHRIS BRADY are coauthors
of the NY Times, Business Weekly, USA Today, and
Money Magazine best-seller, Launching a Leadership
Revolution. Together they lead a network marketing
organization of several tens of thousands of people.
Their common goal is to raise the level of professionalism
and leadership in the networking profession.