Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Networking - It's 100% Mental

A friend sent me a facebook message recently asking if I'd consider going in with her on some Personal Training sessions.  She really wanted to start going, but it was going to be much more affordable for her if she could convince someone to train with her.  I thought "what do I have to lose - I'll give it a try & help her out in the process." If I don't like it, I don't have to continue going & I'd be off the hook.

I'm no stranger to a good workout.  Health & Fitness has been part of my life for as long as I can remember, but honestly I've never paid anyone to train me. For 8 years, I was in competitive sports.  After college, I started teaching group fitness classes & trained competitively for bodybuilding.  So why should I need anyone to tell me how to train & get results right?

Flash forward to today & my life has changed dramatically.  My family has become my priority & my own fitness level has moved to the back burner.  I golf for networking & social reasons & I casually make appearances at the club to justify keeping my membership, but to say have time to train like I used to is a total understatement.  It just hasn't happened. There's no time.

So when this opportunity came up, I committed myself to give it an honest try. Last week's session seemed doable while I was doing it, but oh my goodness, it's been a long time since it took 3 solid days to recover from a workout!  I knew this situation was the kick in the rear I've needed for a long time. Without this Personal Trainer having been in my friend's network, we never would have met. I wouldn't have known she existed or started this little journey.

Networking is a very powerful tool & learning to do it on a regular basis is not second nature for most people.  It is work - it's a job - at least you need to treat it this way in order to see any benefits from doing it. If you don't intend to take it seriously, you might as well not even bother. It could be providing information, a product referral, the name of an associate - it takes many forms.

"For most people networking is a learned behavior... It is a gradual - and often painful, even scary - process of trial and error, small incremental steps, and finally a few breakthroughs." 
- Harvey Mackay

The other thing I believe networking to be is 100% a mental game.  It's mind over matter.  It's putting yourself in situations you don't necessarily understand or feel comfortable in - in order to think outside of yourself & ponder what you can do for another person. It's not "all about you." It's about learning to see the potential in other people & finding what from your base of knowledge you can use to benefit them.  The upside is that you might also gain a new friend in the process.

"You can make more friends in two months by becoming really interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you." - Dale Carnegie

Take this new trainer of mine for example. If you stood the two of us side by side you'd think "what the heck do those two people have in common? What can they possibly do for each other?"  She's a 30-something ex-competitive soccer player turned ultra endurance athlete.  I'm a 40-something ex-competitive track & bodybuilding athlete, turned career woman, mother & golfer.
I was pleasantly surprised that she was quickly able to tap into my mental toughness - that innate tendency to not want to let a workout get the best of you - to dig in, give it 100% & to exceed your coach's expectations. Once you've learned it - that type of drive really never leaves you, it just gets pushed way down into your consciousness.

"Your role models also can become your mentors, helping you, advising you, guiding you, even lending you their network as you build your own." - Harvey Mackay

So this story isn't over - I signed up for 10 sessions of total body whooping, which means I have 9 more to go. Getting through the intense workouts so far has been 100% mental - remembering how to push beyond the limits my mind is trying to set for me, when I know my physical body is more than capable of doing more.

I'm challenging you to take a good look at your own networking opportunities.  Are you stepping outside of yourself & challenging yourself to help others, without expecting anything in return? Are you giving 100% toward finding a benefit for the other person? Are you truly vesting yourself, expressing genuine interest?  If not. Why bother?

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