A Step Beyond Networking

Ana Dutra is CEO of The Executives' Club of Chicago. (Photo by Sheila Barabad)

Late last year, I was speaking with Connie Lindsey, executive vice president at Northern Trust, and as she was discussing the benefits of being involved with The Executives’ Club of Chicago, she shared that the club provides her with the opportunity to not just network, but to “NetWeave.” Lindsey’s NetWeaving concept was so intriguing that I decided to further explore it in additional conversations.

NetWeaving is based on the concept of helping others build or add to their network—it’s simply connecting people and helping them to network in a more strategic way. This collaborative approach focuses on helping others without expecting anything in return, which is the opposite of the traditional “what’s in it for me” mentality sometimes associated with networking.

NetWeavers thrive in helping people to make meaningful and multipronged connections by having full and engaged conversations with others regardless of their job title. Once you get to know people and their needs, goals, and aspirations, you can begin making introductions or “weaving” your contacts together. As connections are made and paid forward, you find yourself with a network of individuals who are interested in and grateful for having connected to others. They are also grateful to you, the catalyst of all these connections.

With NetWeaving, the decision to build a relationship with another individual is based on finding a person interesting and wanting to genuinely get to know him or her better—it has very little to do with the person’s business or industry, and a lot to do with an individual’s stories, passions, and interests. Rather than just working the room, providing an elevator pitch, and leaving with a set of business cards, NetWeavers are interested in having deeper conversations and getting to know each other on more meaningful levels.

Think about a time when you met somebody new and, through the initial conversation, you thought about people that person should get to know or be introduced to. The individual you just met might be somebody who is new in town or who has a child in need of mentoring, and you may know just the way to facilitate help or support.

Rather than just working the room, providing an elevator pitch, and leaving with a set of business cards, NetWeavers are interested in having deeper conversations and getting to know each other on more meaningful levels.

NetWeaving’s impact transcends personal and professional growth. It may truly change lives, create unanticipated opportunities, and open doors.

At The Executives’ Club of Chicago, we see the impact of NetWeaving firsthand. Because membership at the club consists of business leaders from various industries, individuals are exposed to a wide range of peers, which helps initiate the NetWeaving process.  

“I joined the club because I wanted to build relationships beyond the limited circle of lawyers that I was exposed to,” says Manny Sanchez, founder and managing partner of Sanchez, Daniels & Hoffman LLP. “The EC helps grow relationships. That’s what it did for me and what it continues to do for others.”

The club’s mission is to support the Chicago business community and strengthen Chicago as a global business center. We encourage members to create and maintain meaningful relationships and they are able to do this through NetWeaving.

“EC members are able to meet individuals from diverse backgrounds, industries and interests throughout the city of Chicago,” Lindsey says. “It’s about broadening perspectives and creating strong relationships.”

It is exactly what The Executives’ Club of Chicago aims to do for the city’s community.

“It’s energizing being a part of a broader business and civic community,” says Debra Cafaro, CEO of Ventas Inc. “The Executives’ Club of Chicago offers so much to executives and leaders in different stages of their careers. It’s impactful for someone on their way up to participate in the mentorship program and equally impactful for the CEO who wants to have a built-in network of colleagues.”

Not only does NetWeaving create opportunities and new connections, but the more you do it, the more empowering it can be for your own life, business, and aspirations.

The underlying theme of NetWeaving is generosity. Doing good things for others will come back to you many times over, in the most unexpected and fulfilling ways.

At your next networking event, don’t just network, NetWeave.