NetWeaving - A Way to Be Invited to the C-Suite (Part II)

Bob Littell


Editor's Note: This is part II of a two-part article. You can read the first part here:

NetWeaving is a Golden Rule and “Pay it Forward” form of networking in which the NetWeaver is consistently looking and listening for ways to help someone – no strings attached – simply as a way of building trusted relationships. It’s not purely altruistic. It’s really based on the NetWeaver’s belief in the law of reciprocity – what goes around, does come back around, and often in ways that the NetWeaver could never have seen or imagined up front. NetWeavers give first in order to receive, and they do so mainly out of enlightened self-interest.

Not only do they enjoy helping others, but they recognize when they do so, it not only elevates their image in the eyes of others, but it energizes them to do so making them better at everything they do. The “helper’s high” is something that has been scientifically proven to be real, but I like to call it the “NetWeaver’s high.”

But for NetWeaving to be most effective, just as it should be for more traditional networking but usually isn’t, there has to be good, timely, follow up. NetWeaving excels both in promoting follow up through a structured five-step process, and even more importantly, in the follow through – the ingenuity and creativity with which you follow up.

NetWeaving helps people learn how to become a better listener. Whereas, networking, tends to be somewhat more centered around determining if this person is a good current prospect, or if there is some way that this person could be of help to you, NetWeaving stresses listening with a second pair of ears for the needs, problems and opportunities of others.

Often, salespeople mistakenly believe a company’s organization chart holds the key for identifying the best person in the company for making contact at just the right level, rather than taking the time to truly understand the company’s formal and informal power structure and decision-making matrix.

As Bistritz and Read emphasize in “Selling to the C-Suite”

It can cost you the deal if the guy at the top isn’t the relevant executive.This relevant executive is the one who most feels the pain, most owns the problem you can solve, and will most richly reward you for providing a solution. The relevant executive will be someone with a combination of rank and political influence, with an internal network that allows her to initiate projects, kill projects, intervene in projects, and find funding, both in her own silo and across departmental boundaries. What the relevant executive wants, she gets. And the relevant executive isn’t always found at the C-level.This is why “always sell at the top” can be your fastest ticket out of the race.

What’s missing from the toolkits of today’s road warriors is a set of simple approaches for identifying the relevant executive, enlisting the support of gatekeepers, getting past the roadblocks, creating interest when you land the first meeting, and continuing to add value so that you establish credibility as a business resource.”

What came out of the relationship Steve and I have established is a revelation that the skill sets, and action steps of NetWeaving provide many of the most successful tools and approaches for doing what Steve and Nic talk about:

  1. identifying the relevant executive
  2. zeroing in on the personality profile and preferred communication style of the relevant executive
  3. how to turn gatekeepers into gate-openers
  4. navigating through other obstacles
  5. creating value either by connecting key persons within the company or organization with someone outside the company whom he or she would benefit meeting or knowing, or providing them with information or resources which you have confirmed they would consider to be of genuine value.

The 5-step process of NetWeaving at any meeting or event involves:

Step 1- After having conversations with numerous persons, make your decision on the two, or max three, persons with whom you want to follow up afterwards totally based upon: “Are they an interesting person whom I’d like to get to know better(i.e. enjoyable and successful at whatever it is they do), and do they seem to be more of a giver than a taker? Skip the people who can’t wait to tell you all about themselves without showing any interest in what you do.

Step 2– Sneak off to a corner and make notes on the back of his or her business card – key points you talked about, and especially things you learned from them during the conversation, and for which you can thank them in your follow up note or email.

Step 3- Send a personalized note or e-mail. I like to send an e-mail and attach something that can be related back to our discussion. In addition to the article, I always try to highlight a couple points from the article I attach which related to our conversation.

Step 4– Set up either a one-on-one follow-up meeting to get to know the person better or go right to suggesting that you would like to host a meeting with someone whom you believe the person would benefit meeting and knowing with a little description as to why you think it would be a good fit.

Step 5– Somewhere during or at the end of most NetWeaving hosting meetings, one or both of the persons whom you have introduced and encouraged to find ways to help each other, as well as discover people they know in common, will turn the tables and ask their host how they might be able to help them. Instead of suggesting something self-serving, an astute NetWeaver host asks each of his or her hostees to just “pay it forward”and host a meeting for two others. They will almost always agree to do this, but rest assured, they will still come back and insist to somehow return the favor.          

The simplicity of NetWeaving has helped it spread around the country and globally. Just Google the word or check out a “Servant Leader” organization, begun in Texas with my permission to use the name and which is now spreading to other cities – But the most important aspect of becoming a successful NetWeaver is to step outside your comfort zone in order to set up NetWeaving Hosting meetings.

Bob Littel is Chief NetWeaver. The site is