“In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.”
~ Albert Schweitzer
In my last post, we talked about the similarities between networking and starting a fire and how, like fire, networking requires a lot of work before you get to sit back and enjoy the results. The similarities don’t stop there.
What happens if you “sit back” for too long?
Eventually the fire burns up all its fuel and begins to go out. The heat that felt so good before, now barely warms you. You try to move closer eking out the last gasps from the glowing embers, but eventually it will go cold. If you notice, you can throw another log on and it roars back to life, but depending on how long you’ve waited, you might have to go back to kindling and small sticks before you can build it back to roaring health.
Same thing happens in networking, and, I’m a little embarrassed to admit it, but I’ve run into this myself lately.
You’ve built a great network and it begins to really pay off. The number of opportunities coming in keeps you busier than you can imagine. You don’t mean to ignore your network, but you’ve got so much to do, you no longer have time to attend the events and groups you once did. You are sitting back (working hard) and “enjoying the warmth”.
You might not notice for months, but if you don’t “feed the fire”, the jobs that used to be keeping you too busy are now drying up. If you catch it early enough, you can get back into your regular networking practice and the benefits will return in short order. If too much time has passed, you’ll almost have to start over from scratch. You’ll have to connect and reconnect with your network and live through the sometimes long dry period before your network begins to pay off again.
How do you avoid this? I’ll admit that I’m still working on this one myself. The big thing seems to be to create a regular practice. Find ways to fit your networking into your schedule every day — even if only for a few moments. Sending even one email on a consistent basis is better than leaving large gaps where no one hears from you at all.
Keep the fire burning, before it gets cold.