Networking: A Team Sport

A couple of years ago, I was scheduled to attend one of my
Business Referral Exchange breakfast meetings in a location
about 45 minutes away from my home. I'm so used to getting up
early to attend breakfast meetings, that I'm rather like a
fireman ready to slide down the pole and jump on the truck. My
clothes are laid out the night before. The alarm is set for 5:00
AM. The coffee pot is set up and only needs to be plugged in.
I've got just the right amount of time for one cup of coffee and
a quick read of the morning's paper before I head out. I've done
it hundreds of times. It's always been the same...until one
particular day.

On that day, my dog, Bark, was not well. In fact she was
seriously not well. She was seriously not well all over my gray
living room carpet. I won't bore you with the details here, but I
knew what the problem was and I knew that she would need about a
half an hour before she would be her old self again, and that
within that half hour she would need some TLC. I could forego the
cup of coffee and the perusal of the paper and still make the
meeting. I stroked her for a bit, and then jumped in the shower.
When I came out, I put my contact lenses in, and YIKES! They
had been soaking in the wrong solution overnight. They had been
sitting in pure, unadulterated peroxide. Swell. I yanked the
lenses out and rinsed my eyes with water. They were so sore and
swollen, I knew I'd never get the lenses back in and decided to
wear my glasses instead.

I lost some valuable time between Bark and the lenses, but I
could still make the meeting if I hurried. I plugged in the blow
dryer and it was dead. I reset the button in the plug. Still
dead. Okay, I guess that's what towels are for.

I kept checking on Bark and racing to get out of the house. I
tried makeup, but my eyes were so swollen and puffy, nothing was
going to stick. I took one look at my red eyes, frizzy hair, and
naked face and thought, "Gosh Leni, all someone would have to do
would be to slap a hair net on you, and you'd look just like one
of those women from your high school cafeteria!" Just the right
look for an entrepreneurial woman! Oh well, gotta go. I
uncapped the mouthwash for a quick swig, and uh-oh, in my haste,
I grabbed the wrong bottle. Instead of mouthwash, I had just
swilled back nail polish remover! I was starting to get the
feeling this was not going to be my day.

Stick with me. The part about networking will become clearer at
the end. I promise.

I jumped in the car, put it in reverse and slammed on the brakes
as I realized there was a pile of gravel seven feet high at the
foot of my driveway. It was meant for the house next door and
had wound up at my place instead. It took ten minutes for the
workers to clear a path for me, and I was off.

I started to race for the highway as I was seriously late. I was
THE speaker at the meeting, but my eyes were still swollen and
teary. I reached over to grab a tissue from my purse. No purse.
Oh boy. For the first time in my life, I started to think about
the expression, "driving without a license." What exactly does
that mean, anyway? You don't have a license at all, or you have
one, but not on you? Hmm.

No purse also means no money, no plastic, no checks, no
breakfast, no coffee. Amazingly, I arrived at the restaurant
only ten minutes late, but frazzled beyond belief. I was still
thinking about Bark, wondering if she was okay. My hair looked
like I had stuck my finger in a light socket. My eyes were
practically swollen shut, and, as I got out of my car, I slipped
on black ice, thus tearing a hole in my panty hose and bleeding
from one knee. As I picked myself up I saw that in my haste, I
had put on one black shoe and one blue shoe. At this point, I
was pretty sure I should have stayed in bed.

I entered the restaurant, and as I took my seat, I saw the
waitress approach with a pot of coffee. Knowing that I had no
money on me, I covered the coffee cup with my hand as a signal
not to fill the cup. My timing was off, however, and she
proceeded to pour the scalding coffee on my hand.

I had only been up for two hours and already a whole multitude of
disasters had befallen me. Instead of my prepared speech on
networking, I decided to stand up and tell my story to the group.
As I looked out on the faces, I realized how grateful I was that
these people were part of my network. I knew each one of them.
We had all done business together. We had exchanged leads. We
had become friends. I didn't have to explain to them that I'm
usually much better put together. They knew that. Instead of
frowning upon my shortcomings that morning, each person fought
over who would buy my breakfast AND we had a good laugh.

It was a fairly new group, started just about a month before. As
I stood before them, I realized we had reached a turning point.
What had, only a short time before, been a roomful of strangers,
had become a team, a network of people who genuinely cared about
one another. We had helped each others businesses grow. We were
working hard at bringing in referrals for one another. Everyone
there that morning was pulling together to help me in my hour of
need, and that is truly the essence of networking. You see,
networking is not only a contact sport; it is a team sport.
Instead of taking care of just yourself, take care of the people
on your team. They, in turn, will take care of you. Even on a
bad hair day.

About the Author

Leni Chauvin is a professional and personal success coach and an
expert in building business through referral networks. Her
proven methods of generating qualified leads have led to millions
of dollars worth of referral business for her clients. Visit to learn more and to subscribe
to NETWORKING GAZETTE, Lenišs FREE e-mail newsletter packed with
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Leni Chauvin