How to Make the Best Use of Your Networking Time

When you’re the head of a growing company, it’s important to make efficient use of your time. It seems like there’s a hundred tasks on your to-do list every day, each more urgent than the last, and somehow on top of all of this, you’re supposed to make time for professional networking, too!

So how can you make sure you’re making the best use of your networking time, however limited that might be?

The first step is to determine what needs your business currently has that could be met by networking. Are you looking to establish better B2B relationships? Scouting out new talent to bring on board? Hoping to connect with investors? Or are you more interested in a meeting of the minds with other C-level execs, to just talk shop, vent a bit, and get an insight into how they think and operate their companies?

Your needs may shift and change over time, but whatever you’re most interested in now, you should focus on the networking events where you’re the most likely to make the sort of connections that will benefit you the most.

The second step is to consider how you prefer to connect with people. Do you enjoy networking online at all hours of the day? Do you do best with meeting singly or in small groups over coffee or a good meal? Or do you excel in a crowded party, where you can make connections with numerous people?

You may find that you enjoy only one of these methods, or two, or all three. Use them in whatever combination serves you best, and don’t feel guilty about not forcing yourself to engage in forms of networking that leave you feeling awkward or unfulfilled.

The third step is that each time you set out to network, whether it’s through catching up online, sharing a meal, or attending a large event, you should have a goal in mind. Whether it’s making five new connections, or getting a trusted colleague’s input on a sticky situation, you should give yourself a metric for success. Then afterwords, you can judge whether your networking efforts actually helped you work on your goals.

When you know how you want to network and what you want to get out of it, you can prevent yourself from wasting time on “networking opportunities” that don’t actually serve you, and focus on making meaningful connections within your industry. You may also find that it’s worth making the time for networking because it often provides some much-needed external perspective, or opens exciting doors through a new connection.

-AJ

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