How much time should I spend building my network?

How much time should I spend building my network?

By its nature, the internet offers endless opportunities to meet new people. At least a cocktail party must come to an end, but on the net there is always another person with whom you can connect.

People who can leverage their networks well are called “successful”. People who just know a lot of people are called “socialites.”
So when does the party end? When should you stop meeting people?

We recommend only focusing on building your network to the extent that your marginal benefit equals your marginal cost. Otherwise, you will be so busy maintaining your relationships that you will have no time to leverage those relationships.

For example, let us say that you are an entrepreneur seeking to build a new consulting company. Through targeted network building, you have accumulated a list of 50 potential clients. Should you go to three more venues to find 10 more leads, or should you start working down that list?

We recommend start trying to sell to the 50 people. If you can convert one of them into a happy client, he or she will refer you to more customers. Happy clients are the best network aids that you can possibly find. Networking is a means to an end, not an end.

There is no simple way to determine the right amount of time to spend on building your network is. Maintaining your existing relationships is always important, and should be a baseline mandatory part of your daily schedule. In allocating your time, a good test is to follow this three-step process:

• Review everyone in your contact database to create a sublist of potential clients (or employers, or whatever sort of individual you are pursuing).

• Approach all of the potential clients over the next few weeks.

• Meet new people only after you have pursued most of the existing leads.

Servicing existing clients and pursuing existing leads should be a much higher priority than looking for more new leads. Let us say that you have a 50% close rate: you sell your consulting services successfully to 50% of your leads. In a new chat room, there is perhaps a 25% chance that you will meet someone with that 50% chance of revenues. The bird in the hand is worth far more than the bird flitting through cyberspace.

If you find that leads are languishing for a month without you even calling on them, or if you are taking more than a week to respond to important emails, then you are probably spending too much time meeting new people.