Blog Archive
strategy session

Steam Room Networking

So I’m marinating in the steam room, trying to get rid of the last vestiges of a cold. Several women are in there with me and they’re commiserating with each other over the stress of financing their kids’ college educations. 

Right, I’m eavesdropping. What else is there to do? But this visit to the steam room brings unexpected rewards, turning into the perfect illustration of why being a giver is so critical to success in business.

The mothers, with kids between preschool and sixth grade, are lamenting the high cost of college education, especially with more than one in college at the same time. They toss around ideas like getting their parents to gift money, setting up 529 plans, taking out a second on the house. You can tell this looming financial burden is causing many sleepless nights. 

And then a new voice chimes in. It’s a woman who happens to be a financial planner and one of her specialties is helping families finance college education. She tosses around some ideas with the rest of the women: the various alternatives out there, what she recommends, timing, and the pros and cons of each approach. The room is filled with so much steam that the women can’t even see her; she is just a disembodied voice. Yet she has these anxious mothers eating out of her hand by the time she leaves. In her wake there is a mass exodus out of the steam room to get her contact information.

Now that financial planner did not go into the steam room expecting to get several new clients. She was generous and prepared to share her knowledge without an expectation of anything in return.  

What is the takeaway from this? Opportunities like this are everywhere. I don't mean opportunities for a hard sell, but rather to be open and giving with your expertise. This is when networking is the most effective, when it’s not the hard sell, when it’s not with the conscious intent of gaining something in return. It's when you help people get to know, like and trust you by being a giver. 

If you want to learn more about how important giving is to success in business, I can highly recommend The Go Giver, by Bob Burg and John David Mann.