Networking. Its great for business, making contacts, putting faces to names etc. It is also an investment in your future, of time, resources and effort.
So, what do you do to make sure you get the best from your networking opportunities, and avoid an "own goal"? I recently had to revisit this question, in focusing on my many various projects and plans, as was my ability to give my best to each of them was compromised. I was in short becoming over committed between my ears. So, here's my quick fire list of things to keep in mind to avoid this happening, or to deal with it once you identify it has.
1) Recognise that there will always be more opportunities out there than you can reasonably take advantage of at this time. That's not to say to can't be involved, just "not yet"
2) If you're faced with competing time commitments, now is a good time revisit your goals. Keeping your "mindsetKPI" to the forefront, ask yourself what is it that you're trying to achieve? be specific. Even get down to the level of SMART goal setting if needed. Some of these may be short term, medium, or long term. As Tony Robbins has said, you have to run two business. The one you have now and the one you want in five years.
3) Once you have the answer to point 2, then look at which of the opportunities is a best fit for those goals. To paraphrase Tim Ferris, ask yourself which of these networks will be of greatest assistance to me, or otherwise assist me to achieve my aims?" It is odds on that some fit into the medium and longer term goals better, so those are the ones you can place in the "not yet" box. Don't be afraid to drop out either. People who run these networks will appreciate the candour and robust reflective process that goes into saying "no" or not yet. If the network is being run for it's members, and not as money making exercise, dropping out even temporarily will be seen as a positive.
4) Once you've picked the "now" networks, and know what you would like from them, you need to GO. This is an obvious one perhaps but it is the gap that many fall down. The difference between inspiration and application. Treat them as "lessons" or part of a "course" if you will. If you're new to networking in general, or that network specifically. sit back and watch. (we've all seen the overtly sales lead approach that leads us no where so don't do it) Keep in mind you're there to learn, not to sell.
The great thing about this approach is that it positions the network that is placed in the "not yet" box as a milestone on the path the business growth, and simultaneously those "now" networks become part of a conscious business process prioritising the achievement of same.
Which is after all the central point of being in business, to be competitive and to remain in it. Sarah@stubbornlyoptimistic.me.