Don’t try to lift too much with any of
your New Years resolutions.

It’s a whole new year and it’s time for the resolutions. Some folks are going to lose some weight. Others are going to read more. Still others set goals to call their mom more often. I’d imagine there might even be a few out there who are resolved that this year they were going to get their networking act in order.

So, they start attending events every week. They join six new networking groups. They get their LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook accounts up to date and check in on them three times a day. They schedule nine one-to-ones in the upcoming two weeks. They set a schedule to call five people a day from their network. They start a blog and an e-newsletter.

And it lasts about a week.

Listen. Networking is about consistency, not about intensity (as are most things in life). We’d be better off to do ten minutes of networking every day than to attempt to do eight hours once a week. We talk about this phenomenon down at the Karate school all the time. In an attempt to get in shape, people will plan to get up every morning and run five miles. It might even work for a day or two, but it almost inevitably fails. The problem is they are trying to do not one, but two difficult things. First, they are trying to run five miles. Second, they are trying to establish a daily habit.

Yes, that last part is really quite difficult.

The challenge is that we all have established set patterns in our day — patterns which we have practiced for months, years, even decades. Changing that pattern requires an act of sustained willpower. We only have to consider how difficult it is for us to change our eating habits to understand that difficulty.

So, my recommendation to those wanting to step up their networking in the new year is, first, change your pattern. Establish a new practice of doing some kind of networking once a day for even just five minutes. Doing it at the same time each day would be even better. Here are some activities which you can pursue during your “networking time”.

  1. Call one friend just to say hello.
  2. Send out an email to an acquaintance asking them what they’ve been up to lately.
  3. Write a quick note to someone.
  4. Send an article to someone.
  5. Read and respond to a blog post in your industry.
  6. Go on your favorite social media site and update your status.
Pick only one activity to do during your networking time. Now do it for three or four weeks without missing a day. Soon it will seem strange not to do your networking. When that happens you can consider extending the amount of time you spend and adding a new activity.
Establishing a networking practice is no different from cultivating any other habit in your life. It’s mainly just takes consistent activity and time. So, Happy New Year and happy networking.
See you at the next Chamber lunch.

Photo credit: Brian Lary