Carrying on the theme of time as an investment, you also need to consider your circles of friends, contacts, co-workers, family and connections as an investment. Like all investments, you need to put more money (in this case time and effort) if you want the overall value of the investment to increase (unless of course you hit it big in Vegas).
Many of us have been taught to “network” and “get connected” in order to build opportunities for future employment, but you lose the joy of having a rich network by using networks as a means for personal gain.
For this post, ask yourself this question: would you grab a beer (or wine) with this person and enjoy his/her company for more than an hour? Now, how do you organize all those people you know?
You will notice a trend of mine here: categories. I love them. They bring order to chaos. So in my typical fashion I broke down my network into categories. I should also mention this exercise is similar to one I performed as part of a homework assignment for IU, so I can’t take ALL the credit :).
- A – Current Employment
- B – Past Jobs/Bosses
- C – College/School
- D – Close Friends and Family
- E – Mentors (Work or Life)
- F – Top 5 People You Would Start a Company With (more on this in a minute)
- G – Acquaintances
You can narrow this down more, but I like to keep the category number small to save me the trouble of parsing through tons of names and too many categories. F and G are probably the most confusing. F is a list of 5 people you would call if you all of a sudden decided to start a company. These are you closest comrades who share a passion for work like yours. You would never second guess spending hours upon hours in a small office working on the next Facebook with them. G is a “catch all” for those people you meet and don’t want to lose touch with.
Take the time to fill out this list. You will probably realize you can’t fill out all 5 spots for category F…that’s okay. These lists are always growing and changing. Once you have the list of people, add a column for “Last Spoken With”. Now here’s the most important part: set 30 minutes/week, every week, to reach out to one or two people on your list. Fill out the “Last Spoken With” column and spend some quality time on the phone, in person, over drinks, etc. Invest in these people!
There are TONS of articles out there on building networks, reaching out, staying connected and everything else under the sun. I strongly recommend reading The Start Up of You and checking out Google searches for “making genuine connections.”
Actions (30 – 45 minutes then 30 – 60 min/week)
1) Pick your categories.
2) Think hard about the people you put on your list. Spend time here.
3) Set time on your calendar (I run my life in Google Calendar) to reach out to at least 2 contacts. Catch up, be interested, help out.
4) Build a strong network and encourage others to do the same!