“I know that each of us has much to do. Sometimes we feel overwhelmed by the tasks we face. But if we keep our priorities in order, we can accomplish all that we should. We can endure to the end regardless of temptations, problems, and challenges.”
~ Joseph B. Wirthlin
Have you ever felt like your networking gas tank is on empty?
Several months ago I was working with one of my recurring clients. They bring me in about once every two months to work on their training program — a week long, full day, every day event. And I will admit by the end of these sessions, I’m usually pretty tired. This time, though, for some reason, was worse for me.
On the surface, it was the same as all the others I’d done in the past. It was the same content, the same program. It lasted the same amount of time. But by the end of the week I was just exhausted. Every night I would come home and I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I’m normally a night owl, but I was in bed by 9:30 (which for me is really early). After the whole week was over, I thought a lot about my lack of energy. Why was I so tired all the time? Was I getting sick?
Then I realized what had happened. You see, we moved the training from our normal location. They’d had a water main break and so we had to relocate to a different hotel. It was a beautiful place. The problem was the space was just a little bit smaller than what we had had in our normal location. As a result, there was no place I could go to be alone.
Many people don’t believe it, but I am actually an introvert, which means I don’t get energy from the people around me. In fact, being in a crowd drains me. If I don’t have that quiet space where I can go to be alone and recharge, it exhausts me.
Does this happen to you? You go to a networking event and you are surrounded by all these great and interesting people – possibly one or two who might connect you with your next great opportunity. Instead of feeling energized, though, you suddenly realize you are getting worn out. They haven’t even served lunch! That was me. Back when I started networking, I had about twenty minutes at any given networking event before, I was done.
So what can you do to deal with that? Obviously you still want to go out and network. You still need to go to those events so you can meet new people, but you’re not going to be particularly effective when the gas tank is on empty. Here are some ideas that might help you be more successful when you do attend those events.
- Know your limits. If you are just strong enough that you can barely lift a fifty pound bag of flour, trying to lift a hundred pound bag is probably not going to be good for you. You’ll hurt yourself. Similarly, if you know that you’ve got about twenty minutes of networking before you’re exhausted, be aware of that. You need to get your networking done in those twenty minutes, because after that, you’re not going to be particularly successful.
- Have a goal when you walk in. Know why you’re there and what you’re trying to achieve. Many people go to these networking events and they don’t know when they are done. That in and of itself is exhausting because it’s like running a race and never knowing where the finish line is. Knowing when it’s going to be over means you can better manage your energy. What you want to achieve when you get there? Do you want to meet two new people? Three new people? Do you want to have a deeper conversation with one person? Whatever it is, make sure you know what it is before you walk in.
- Know how you can find relief. If you are like me and you don’t gain energy from being around a lot of people, you might need to step outside for a few minutes just to clear your head and recharge. If it’s a longer program, such as a multi-day conference, find a spot where you can sit quietly and just be by yourself. I always recommend if you are staying at the event venue, maybe skip a session, go up and sit quietly in your hotel room. You need to recharge, because if you don’t have the energy, you can’t make the connections.
- Understand that this is just like any other muscle. You can build it. As I mentioned, when I started out, I had about twenty minutes in me before I was done. But now I can last about a day and a half before I’m exhausted.
If you are like this, too, and you only have twenty minutes in you, could you push it for just five more minutes? Just meet one more person. Or maybe you can use those few extra minutes talking with someone you already know and reconnecting with them. Whatever it is, push yourself just a little bit, because each time you do, you strengthen your networking muscle. Before you know it, everyone will think you are the outgoing natural networker.
Hey, I understand. My gas tank gets empty just like anybody else’s. Be aware of it, but don’t let it stop you. You can be a great networker even if your tank only lasts for twenty minutes right now.
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