My networking calendar is full. How about you? But for the last six months full means something different than it used to in the past.
Let me explain.
I used to be out there morning, noon and night, at various meetings and events. There were weeks that I spent very little time at home or in my office and had to cram in the “real” work over the weekend and late at night. I was running myself ragged, feeling exhausted and yes, not recognizing a really great return on my time (ROT).
And so I stepped back and did an analysis. What activities were yielding the best reward and I don’t only mean in terms of introductions and leads, but rewards in terms of budding friendships, knowledge, etc. Where was my time well spent and where was I, well, wasting time?
It was a sobering exercise and one that I realize I should have done much sooner. Well, better late than never they always say and so I started to pare back my involvement.
I dropped out of certain groups (of course I still maintain relationships with some of the members!). I stopped attending many (most) of the evening events that didn’t seem to be doing anything. Instead I substituted “Six in the City” dinners in which 6 people gather for a meal to network but more importantly to truly start the relationship building process, something that I don’t feel can get accomplished adequately when standing around holding a glass of wine and having sound bites instead of conversations.
While I was doing all of this deleting I was also ramping up my one-on-one conversations but instead of always trying to squeeze in face-to-face meetings and dates for coffee I started to suggest that we get to know one another better in a scheduled phone call, saving both of us valuable travel time and offering a convenient opportunity for substantive dialogue.
The result? Well, besides the fact that I am now home for dinner many more nights of the week, I can actually say that the business that has resulted from networking has absolutely increased thereby validating (for me anyway) that it is quality not quantity that really makes the difference.
What about you? Are you networking more and enjoying it less? Getting the kind of ROT that you want and need from your networking endeavors? Perhaps you need to do an analysis too and make certain that your networking involvement is not running your life!