Scramble at the top of the NEC standings, but defending champs Saint Francis U and preseason favorite Robert Morris are struggling

In a conference like the Northeast mid-major through and through its probably pretty easy to become discouraged this early in the season. After all, when the defending conference champion Saint Francis Ubegins the season in a three-game skid thanks to a three-game road trip thats all but meant for the home teams (including No. 4 Baylor) to feast on you, whos to say which team will emerge fromthoseashes and claim the top spot in the conference for as long as they can?

That team, for now, isSt. Francis Brooklyn, whose 4-3 record is one of just two in the conference above .500 after about a month of play. The Terriers played and won their first two games at home, then took two of three in the Vinewood Farm Classic the weekend before Thanksgiving. But, as it stands, even the top team in the NEC (for the moment) is having trouble against more established programs. Their losses so far are to the Missouri ValleysValparaiso, the Big Easts Seton Hall and the Patriot LeaguesArmy. Their next game, athird away contest in a rowagainst Loyola Maryland, could see them go the way of the Saint Francis U Red Flash.

Mount St. Marysis the NECs other 4-3 team, having followed up a three-game losing streak of its own (to the Big TensMichigan, the Atlantic 10sDuquesneand the MAACsRider) with a three-game winning streak againstTowson,Loyola MarylandandGardner-Webb. The Mountaineers have one more big test on the horizon before beginning NEC play another power conference matchup at Virginia Tech, in just under two weeks.

As for the predicted conference champion,Robert Morrisis not at all where they were last season, with their 1-6 record having almost as many losses as their entire last season. The Colonials went 25-8 en route to a Womens National Invitation Tournament appearance after losing to Saint Francis U in the NEC Tournament championship game. Theyll try to turn things around against Kent State, though they were held to just 31 points in a loss to the Golden Flasheslast seasonthat snapped a five-game winning streak.

But come conference season,Saint Francis U has a solid chance to repeat as champions, andJessica Kovatchis why. The second-leading scorer in the country a season ago (24.4 points per game) and theNCAA record-holderin three-pointers in a season (141) is on two national preseason watch lists and starting to find her stride once again, with three consecutive 20-point games to her name.Coming up, the Red Flash will try to grab two key wins, one at home and one on the road, before heading to the Husky Classic next weekend.


Second: Assess Like an Athlete

No matter what the original game plan is, a good athlete always makes an assessment of how the game is going once the action has begun and makes adjustments if necessary. Similarly, when youre in the middle of a networking event, assess how things are going? Are you talking to people and making good connections? Do you need to relax? Once you have made an assessment, dont be afraid to change whats not working. For instance, if youve been at an event for 20 minutes and havent had any significant conversations, move to another part of the room and/or boldly introduce yourself to someone you havent made contact with. No two networking events will be alike, so try different tactics if things arent going like you want them to.

Third: Play Like an Athlete

If you think about some of the best athletes in the world, theres one thing that you wont be able to call; timid. Winning athletes attack the game with vigor and confidence. They trust in their talents, their preparation and their experiences and usually it all pays off. Thats how you should be ready to network. Jump right into it. Trust that what youre bringing to the table (your talents, experiences and personal network) are an asset to someone in that room and that theres someone in the room is an asset to you. Know that youve prepared for the event and that youre capable of reaching your goal.

Fourth: Review and Follow-Up Like an Athlete

Finally, every athlete watches film and follows up with their coaches after their performances to figure out where they can improve and what theyre doing well. Like an athlete, being a great a networker requires review and follow-up. Always take a moment after an event and reflect on how things went and how you felt. Whats most important; however, is the follow-up. Be sure to follow-up with the people you met, especially those who you believe there could be some mutual benefit. You shouldnt let too much time pass between the event and the follow-up. I usually like to follow-up within 48-72 hours of the event, that way the interaction is fresh on everyones mind. There are many ways to follow-up, emails, handwritten notes, phone calls, etc. Whatever way you choose to follow-up, make an effort to be memorable, refer to something interesting from your conversation and be clear about how you would like to continue to cultivate the relationship.

See, networking really isnt that difficult. All you have to do is be intentional about it. Conquer it like an athlete and watch your network grow! Now that you have these expert tips, come practice with us in Atlanta, GA on July 12, 2018, at this years GladiatHers Women in Sports Mixer. Clickhereto sign-up for updates.

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