Is your networking getting a balanced diet?

Diet…the very word brings many things to mind and for most of you the immediate thought will be in the food arena when you see this word. Nothing wrong with using the food analogy. I also believe that your network and your networking activities need to have a proper diet to be maintained at the highest level. My intent with today’s post is to scratch the surface of the proper diet when it comes to your network and your networking. Being an analogous person I find that this concept fits very well with networking. I suspect you will too.

Many people see the word diet and immediately think it means that they need to stop doing something or change something. No doubt this is the case when it comes to food and the same holds true when it comes to networking. Let’s explore a few of the common maladies that people face when dealing with a diet, or in “dieting” in their daily lives:

  • We eat too much of the wrong things
  • We eat too much when we are having a meal
  • Our eating never stops
  • We don’t spread our food intake over a prolonged period of time
  • We eat too much when we get ready to sleep
  • We don’t eat enough when we get going in the morning
  • There is no long-term objective in solidifying or changing our current diet

Many of these issues manifest themselves in our networking. I’ll take some time today to give a few examples and then try to take a “deeper dive” later this week and next week into establishing the right “networking diet” in your life and your career.

One of the best references for networking that I use often is Keith Ferrazi’s book “Never Eat Alone”. I find it ironic that Ferrazi finds a strong correlation between food and networking too.

Here are a few of the axioms that Mr. Ferrazi uses in his text:

  • Begin with a plan in mind
  • Never eat alone
  • Develop a schedule
  • Ask for help

There are many other concepts that are developed in this book, but let’s look at how they relate to the food diet (noun and verb) we all talk about.

We can network too much in certain areas just as we can eat too much of the wrong thing. Let’s take cereal for instance. A little cold cereal can be a good thing, but most cereal is purely sugar with little complex carbohydrate and there is next to no protein or fiber. There may be a short term jolt followed by a “sugar coma” that saps you of energy.

Networking can be much the same way. Some networking events are mainly “grip and grin” affairs where there is no substance, no rooting, taking place. I would prefer to spend time with 2-3 valid contacts and learn more depth versus going around the room and getting all of the cards available.

It is like the difference between a shotgun and a rifle. No doubt there are times when grip and grin is necessary, but it is not the end all that will take you where you seek to go.

Having a schedule that you follow with networking can be even more important than the one you use with food. I find that the body can respond rather quickly when food is involved, but with networking you are dealing with other human beings and they can sometimes be less understanding. Regardless of the format you use to connect and follow up, and there are many (a future post), you will want to establish some type of mechanism that ensures that you keep in touch on a regular basis. Eating blueberries once in your life will be good in comparison to never eating them, but if you want to benefit from the antioxidants they possess you will want to eat them more often. Same way with networking. Know who you key contacts are and don’t be afraid to add and remove as times change.

I’ll be posting more in the coming week or two on this topic. As you can see, there is a lot to do and talk about when it comes to networking and you will want to chew slowly and digest fully what we talk about here.