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Sunday, November 08, 2009

A NOTE FROM THE CHAIRMAN: Soccer and Networking

On Saturday, November, 7th, I experienced what most parents dream of. As if in a movie, I got to witness my 9 year old son become the hero of his soccer team.

Some parents will really understand where I'm coming from here and others certainly won't, but this really does tie into networking.

Now I have never been accused of being athletic - it's just not who I am, nor am I an avid sports-watcher, but my son is a huge soccer fan (he loves other sports too, and as a father I've felt compelled to watch televised sports with him as a "bonding" ritual).

This year he was on the last place team - plagued by low turnout, an extremely mild-mannered, low-key coach and just plain bad luck, although they did win one game and tie a few others. Knowing this, and also encouraging my son to play his best game as opposed to win it, I would always praise him for a job well done despite his team having lost. This year for him also saw him experience some growing pains as he, an excellent defender, was moved to the front line offense and had to develop a slightly different set of skills.

After coming in last place, his team went into the playoffs against the first place team and beat them in double overtime (no ties in playoffs) - what an upset. Many of us parents thought this to be a fluke. As they went into their next playoff game (the semi-finals) they had just enough people to play - no substitutes (for those who don't know, soccer is a strenuous sport that requires speed and endurance - substitutes come in for tired players). Adding insult to injury, two of the kids on his team showed up with just minutes to go before the game started. The other team wore war-like face paint, had three substitutes and were all early. Yep...this was looking ugly.

My son's team started off strong and scored the first goal. Then, the other team scored two within moments of each other to gain the lead. In the second half, the opposing team scored yet another goal making the score 3 to 1. One of my son's teammates (the one who scored the first goal) scored the second...3 to 2. Then the magic son scored the tying goal. It was looking like they would once again go to overtime, when with just seconds to go, he got the winning goal.

The crowd was cheering and I never screamed more in my life. They were going on to the finals and would now be either the second or first place team - either way, the top two teams get a trophy and that's what meant the most to my son. What meant most to me was what this experience had done to his confidence.

To play that up, I asked him in front of the rest of the family as we were driving home how it felt to have been the one to bring a trophy home to every member of his team. His response was, "it wasn't just me, I had a lot of help". How true, indeed. This got me thinking.

So what does this proud soccer dad story about his son have to do with networking?


Common knowledge tells us that networking is about building relationships. My son's response hit home for me the idea that his team is a network that through hardship was able to find a way to work well as a team.

It also made me think about the other team too - they were prepared, they were organized, and they thought they were going to win. In networking, while it pays to be prepared, we often neglect to take into account that randomness and entropy can affect outcome in very unexpected ways.

Perhaps being the smaller team with less players who had to play the entire game by themselves caused them to have to trust each other more. Perhaps the shared hardship strengthened their resolve even further.

In networking, we can often see ourselves as underdogs as we must navigate our way through those we think may hold power over us. It is through the power of tenaciousness, repetition, consistency and strength of character that even the underdog can rise to the top and win the day.

At the time of this writing, I don't know whether my son's team will win the championship - I do know his team will be in either first or second place. One thing is for sure - they won't quit playing until the very end.

Here's to many more wins to come!

As always, I look forward to Networking with you,


Published by THE NATIONAL NETWORKER Newsletter. All rights reserved. Subscribe Free For Your TNNW Newsletter and THE BLUE MONDAY REPORT! - Click HERE.
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