I was recently talking with a good friend of mine (to protect the innocent let’s call him Bob) and we stumbled across an interesting topic. Initially we talked about life and all the normal things, but as always, we ended up talking about business and how things had been going. One thing lead to another and we both found ourselves deep in thought about networking. You see, Bob believed networking events are seasonal and that interested me because I hadn’t heard that idea before. It ended up being a 3-hour conversation but I’ll spare you the time and cut it down to the good parts.
The basic thought process behind the concept was that the quantity of networking events in our general area greatly fluctuates based on two things, the time of year and holidays. Bob also suggested that attendance at networking events seemed to be seasonal as well, with more people attending events in the winter months than the summer ones. Taking of all this into consideration he concluded that if he worked hard enough at networking in the winter, he could skip it in the summer.
Rules are Rules
While some rules are made to be broken, I honestly feel there are also some that shouldn’t be touched. Bob’s conclusion had completely contradicted one of my core rules and we had to get to the bottom of it. By trade I’m in the website design and marketing industry and one of our most coveted rules when it comes to marketing is, consistency is key. Since networking is a form of marketing, I always applied the rule across the board. But Bob brought up an interesting point. If you could do enough in the winter should you really keep working hard in the summer just because of some rule?
After a long period of debate that covered a wide variety of points and counter points, we both agreed on one thing. In our search to answer the initial question we both completely missed the more important question. Is your business seasonal?
Neither of our businesses would be considered a seasonal one. However, as small business owners we both experienced seasonality in our businesses in the early years. Times when projects were flying in left and right and times where it seemed we couldn’t land a client if we were the last company on earth. Over the years, and again through our conversation, we eventually realized that seasonality was the result of other factors like our networking efforts. We finally agreed. The seasonality of networking events was irrelevant. If we wanted our businesses to flourish and land clients all year our networking efforts had to be consistent.
Being in the website design and marketing world, we do a lot of planning. I decided I needed to make a plan and get control of my problem. I picked a day and put it on my schedule. I sat down and mapped out every organization I was in, how much progress I felt I had made toward my goal, outstanding tasks I committed to, and all the other relevant details. By the time I was done the list was startling. It quickly became clear, I needed to wrap up my commitments and narrow my focus to just a couple organizations. So that’s exactly what I did, and the results were amazing. Within the next 6 months I was able to attend events much more consistently. People got to know me, trust me, and even started referring some business. While I wasn’t committing to help every time they asked, I was able to do a much better job when I did volunteer, and it was noticed. By narrowing my focus and netWORKING less, I was able to make a bigger impact on the organizations I was a part of and move toward my goals quicker.
While this is a trap that most business owners fall into early on, it can really happen at any stage of your business life. Let this article be your friend that provides the dose of reality and take a moment and think. Are you netWORKing too hard?
Photo by Pixabay user Gellinger