My buddy Tim and I head down to Dragon Con each year. It’s a science fiction convention that draws about 70,000 attendees. The convention is fun, but the real reason I go is that Tim and I have these great conversations. We talk about business, success, art, capturing ideas, and some of the successes we’ve seen in our lives. I get as much out of that one long weekend, both personally and professionally, as I do in any other month the rest of the year.
In previous years, we always stayed at the same hotel and with few variations, ate at the same locations. We were actually worried that we had gotten in a rut. This year, though, we forgot to make our reservations at our hotel and ended up having to stay elsewhere. As a result, this year was not as productive as previous years, partially because we were spending a lot more time trying to figure out how to work with this new location and find different places to eat.
What I now realize is that what we had was not a rut, but rather a routine. Our pattern, based on the hotel and our usual dining haunts allowed us to forget about those issues and focus on the ideas and concepts that are the main reasons we attend.
Similarly, in networking we need to be aware of the value of following a routine and the dangers of falling into a rut. Briefly, a routine is repetitive behavior that supports our ultimate goals. A rut is also repetitive behavior, but the focus is on the behavior without awareness of how it helps or hinders our goals.
Regularly attending the same networking group is a routine as long as you are continuing to meet new members that can connect you with your clients. It’s a rut when your client base has shifted and the group no longer supports it.
Sending out hand-written notes to those you meet is a routine if it is a step toward creating deeper relationships with them. It’s a rut if you just send them out of habit with no other purpose in mind.
Contacting people in your network on a regular basis is a routine if you are always looking for ways to be of greater service to them. It’s a rut if you are just doing it to “touch base”.
Routines make it possible for you to be connected to much larger circles. On the other hand, you can’t make great relationships on auto-pilot. Examine all of your networking activities and ask yourself. “Am I doing this as a routine or am I in a rut?”
What networking routines do you have? Respond in the comments.