It’s the network

To be a good communicator, Joe Wells says that you need to start with a firm belief in the words that come out of your mouth.

“You have to have a message that you believe and that you are passionate about,” says Wells, founder, chairman and CEO of Max Muscle. “That helps you communicate that message a little better. You have to really know the person you are talking to and understand how to communicate with that person.”

Wells, a former linebacker for the Oakland Raiders, has translated his engaging personality and way with words into a successful chain of sports nutrition franchises. With more than 150 stores employing about 500 people, Max Muscle posted 2008 revenue of approximately $18 million. And Wells is confident that the value he places on social networking is one of the reasons his business has succeeded.

“I have hundreds of friends in the industry,” Wells says. “It is all reciprocation. You help people, and they help you.”

Smart Business spoke with Wells about the keys to developing an effective network of peers and being a good communicator.

Take advantage of industry events. You are going to develop a lot of friends when you go to trade shows. I have hundreds of friends in the industry, not necessarily people that I hang out with on the weekends, but at the same time, people I know I can call on if I am looking for somebody.

It comes with mutual respect.

Make an effort. I have limited time to spend networking and have social lunches and social dinners. But in the course of the day, an old friend calls me, I walk in and see a current vendor that I use and like, and I put the two together. That happens two or three times a week. It’s something that helps you be successful. You need to learn that right away.

Get to know a lot of people and reciprocate. If you are the type that just calls somebody when you need something, after awhile, they’re going to stop helping you. If you are the guy that knows when to call up and say, ‘So-and-so has Lakers tickets and cannot go. Do you want to go?’

You do something for them, and they do something for you. You are not going to get a lot of reciprocation if you do not do something first. Go to trade shows and make a lot of friends. Make sure you give before you are getting.

You figure it out pretty quick when somebody is getting more than they are giving.