The average work week is 38 hours and most networking is outside these hours so it can be challenging. Like most people, when you look at your schedule for the working week ahead and see that it’s already bursting at the seams, it’s easy to dismiss the idea of networking that week. Then if this happens every week, before you know it you’ve lost touch with valuable existing connections and missed meeting new ones!
Having networked all my career and taught networking skills for more than a decade, I can tell you that it is a very valuable activity and worth investing your time in. Done right, you can use it as your main source of new business and new ideas and reap the rewards it brings.
So, when you’re pressed for time, how can you go about finding time to network? Here are some of our top tips for time poor networkers.
Make it quick. Networking doesn’t have to be a long, drawn out event that takes up half your day. A quick coffee or casual meet up with a contact can be just as effective, particularly if you normally stop for a coffee break in your day anyway! Arrange to meet a potential / existing client or contact for a short meeting over coffee or lunch. This is something that you can easily fit into your day.
Refine the events you attend. If you go to a lot of networking events and you find they are taking up more than a few hours in your working week or month, refine the events you attend. It’s far better to attend 2 events per month that give you a good return on your efforts, than attend 8 per month that lead to nothing. Take a look at the results of your last few events, and ditch the ones that are not worth attending. Focusing your efforts into one or two events means you can achieve more in less time. A recent survey asked what would encourage people to attend more events and the answer was 76.2% of people said they wanted to go to more events where there were the types of businesses they would like to meet. (source)
The same article showed that of the people that didn’t network, their reasons where: Cost/Return vs on Investment, the value to their business, poor experience and too much choice. (Source)
Go online. Yes, I know, I usually advocate face to face above all else but online networking is quick and easy and can be the starting point for making some valuable connections. It’s easy to spend 15 minutes on LinkedIn connecting with people in your industry or contribute to a relevant forum or group. You never know what those few minutes of online networking might lead to.
In fact there are 2 new LinkedIn members joining the social platform per second. So you are bound to be able to connect with figures like that. (Source)
Networking is certainly worth the time you invest, so make sure you schedule some networking time into your calendar and use that time wisely.
To learn more about some effective strategies to fit networking into a busy schedule, enrol for the September 21st 3-6pm Business Networking Skills Workshop here.
Julia Palmer, a respected Networking Strategist and Chief Executive of the Business Networking Academy, presenting and training on how to create and manage networks that work. To learn more visit www.juliapalmer.com & www.BusinessNetworkingAcademy.com.au