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Networking 101 – Be selective

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When I first embarked on my Networking journey, around 2005, I was so hyped up by my very first meeting and all the wonderful opportunities that I could see opening up before me, that I rushed off to every single meeting that I could find. In fact it became so bad that on some days I attended a breakfast meeting, a lunch meeting and a late afternoon meeting.

That wasn’t the worst of it either! I would rush around frenetically after the meeting collecting as many business cards as I could possibly get hold of. During the next couple of days I would frantically call every everyone and book appointments to meet with people and have a ‘one-on-one’ meeting to ascertain where I could be of assistance to them. I knew instinctively that I had to meet with people individually to make the whole networking thing work – but I wasn’t satisfied until every single available spot in my diary was full. Hell, I was busy and if I could have charged for every single hour that I was booked to meet with people I would have made an absolute fortune – if the truth be told, if I had charged for every single hour that people did not pitch I would have made a decent living!

I learnt very quickly though, that having a full diary does not mean that you will have a full bank account.

Having a full diary also means that there is no time to get on with the work that you have painfully secured for paying clients – it means that you have to pull all nighters and you have to work weekends and it also means that you mess with your ability to deliver!

Having a full diary, for an introvert is also really scary and not a good thing and pretty soon, I was absolutely frazzled. I felt like the planet needed to be stopped and I needed to get off – for a very long time.

What needed to stop though, was me Networking for the sake of Networking. I needed to plan things properly in order to give me time to get my work done for paying clients and also have enough time left over for me to be quietly on my own in order for me to charge my own batteries.

Nowadays, my networking habits are a lot different. Although I belong to many different Networking groups, I try not to attend more than one a week on average. I don’t ask for cards unless the synergy is immediate and clearly apparent (not only for me to do business with them but also for me to connect them up with someone who may need their services). If someone gives me a card, I will always accept it – after all, the Universe knows a lot more than what I do and there is always a reason for me to receive that card.

I now also only book one-on-one meetings one day a week. I try and book them so that we meet in the same place. This means that I am not running around in between meetings and I am now optimizing my time more effectively. I schedule time for clients and I schedule time for me.

Make no mistake, my diary still looks full – the difference now is that it is a more ‘balanced’ full.