How To Avoid Networking Burnout
It’s a well-publicized fact that networking is a critical aspect of every manager’s life. Professionals who have large networks and maintain strong relationships with their contacts feel more supported and are more likely to hear about business and career opportunities than those who don’t.
However, with increased connectivity and globalization, networking has expanded considerably. Thanks to LinkedIn, the professional’s preferred social network with more than 433 million members, you can connect with people across the globe at any time of day or night. In addition, many companies and organizations offer free webinars where you can not only learn things, but also make new connections. And don’t forget about face-to-face networking events such as conventions, monthly Chamber of Commerce meetings, and annual alumni meetings.
It’s understandable then that when you combine this with your daily workload, as well as your personal life, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and even burnt out. The problem is that you can’t just stop networking altogether, since it’s a must for your career. At the same time, as Dan Brown points out it his Inc. article titled “Avoid These 5 Terrible Networking Mistakes,” it’s really bad form to only reach out to people when you need something.
So how can you network without risking burnout? The following strategies will help.
- Limit the time you spend networking online each day. It’s so easy to lose track of time when you’re online. Regardless of how much time you’re used to spending on online networking, determine how much time you’re willing to spend on it and stick to it. If this is difficult, keep in mind that you have obligations to your employer and employees, to your family, and to yourself, and networking should not be to the detriment of any of those relationships.
- Set time aside to answer messages. When you get a message alert, it’s always tempting to check what just came in. However, this is a surefire way to compromise your focus, slow you down, and consequently make your work pile up at the end of the day. Instead, turn off your alerts and reserve time in your schedule two or three times a week to answer messages from your contacts.
- Maximize your group participation. There are numerous interesting professional groups you can join on LinkedIn—but participating is time consuming. Instead of joining multiple groups, choose one with a lot of members and a high participation rate. Don’t lurk: engage actively in discussions. This will help you establish and strengthen connections in your field.
- Post updates. A good way to remain visible to all of your contacts is to regularly post updates that are related to your industry or profession. You don’t need to post every day; two or three times a week should be enough. Plus, you don’t have to create the posts yourself. You can install a browser extension like Buffer or Hootlet that automatically generates a headline and link for you.
- If you’re taking time off, announce it. Everybody understands things can get very busy now and then. So instead of simply disappearing, announce that you’ll be tending to other affairs for a while and will be back in a few days.
- Connect in-person. One of the strange things about the Internet is that people who live and or work in relative proximity still oftentimes only connect online. Yet face-to-face interaction is an important way to strengthen your relationships. So instead of sending someone who works two blocks away a message, invite him or her to get together for coffee or lunch. It’s a break from the digital world, plus, it could even be fun!
- Attend high-value events. When it comes to in-person networking, instead of attending every reunion and meeting, select high-value events where you’ll have the opportunity to establish valuable relationships, learn new information, and/or showcase your expertise.
Networking should be a boost to your career, not a burden. Keep these tips in mind, and you’ll soon see how streamlined yet effective networking can be.
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