If you had an unlimited amount of time, you could attend every networking event in your town or city, spend your mornings and afternoons meeting people for coffee, and eat lunch with a different one of your contacts every day.
Unless you know a secret to which none of the rest of us are privy, though, unlimited time is a pipedream unlikely to come true in the foreseeable future.
So how do you determine how much networking to do?
Personally I’ve found two paths that you can follow:
1. Spend some time analyzing your business in detail. Determine how much money you want to make. Divide that by the average amount of money one of your sales is worth. Multiply that by the number of networking meetings you have to make to ultimately make that kind of sale (remember to look ahead by three to six months given the networking lag time). Multiply that number by the number of “touches” you need to make with your network in order to get a single networking meeting. You’ll also want to figure in the number of events you need to attend in order to meet the requisite number of new networking contacts to offset the natural attrition rate of average personal and business relationships. To be truly accurate, you should also figure in the relative effectiveness of different types of networking contacts (e-mail, newsletters, hand-written notes, phone calls, etc). I would recommend using a fairly sophisticated spreadsheet in order to analyze all of this data.
2. Make your best guess and adjust over time.
Those of us in the nerd set tend to gravitate toward #1. In reality, though, this tends to lead not to better networking, but rather toward constructive avoidance.
The second path allows you to get going. The next trick is to just keep track of what you do on a daily basis. How many calls? How many emails? How many events? After a few months you can look at what results you are receiving and decide which activities need to be increased.
The big challenge is not to let ourselves to be distracted by trying to create the perfect system before we start networking. Get going, first, then figure out how you can improve.
So what level of networking do you need to start out?