Grow Your Network

“Sweatworking” is the new networking for our fitness loving entrepreneurs. Instead of gathering for drinks and convo, professionals are coming together for workouts followed by healthy snacks. It’s a great way to build camaraderie, increase communication and overcome adversity.

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But, what if you’re not into the whole “sweatworking” thing? Whether it’s attending startup events, social situations or happy hours, networking is an essential part of every entrepreneur’s life. More than 78% of working entrepreneur’s agree that networking is crucial to startup success. How do you master and love the art of networking?

Well, it can be extremely draining. Try not to imagine the countless hours that are spent talking, traveling and socializing with contacts and potential investors. Too much social interaction can be completely exhausting both mentally and physically, no matter your personality type. There are ways to stave off the exhaustion so that you have the energy to focus on other biz operations.

First off, ask yourself what your optimum level of social interaction might be? Being with others can be so enjoyable, but everyone has their point when it starts to become draining. You need to figure out what this point is. A good way to do so is to list all of your networking activities for the past four weeks and how many hours you’ve spent at each. If you’re also prepping for these social meetups by strategizing or doing research, then include this time as well. Now try to remember how you felt at the end of each week. Tracking your networking hours and your energy levels helps you to realize and be aware of your personal limits.

Second, as you are RSVPing to these networking events, choose quality over quantity even if it means meeting fewer people. Networking is only going to be successful for you if you are able to put your best effort into it. Strong networks rely on great first impressions and positive first impressions require a lot of mental energy, social strategy and perspective-taking. If you’re drained, you might miss the mark! Be strategic with your attendance and choose a few high-quality, high-potential opportunities instead of hitting every social hour in town. You’re looking for connections that will provide long-term value, align with your goals and add variety to your existing network. If your time is limited and the event doesn’t meet your standards, skip it and conserve your energy for another opportunity.

Third, bring a wingman (or wingwoman)! There will be times when you have to network more than you want. When this happens, consider bringing a coworker or friend along to help buffer the situation and achieve your goals. Make sure whoever it is is knowledgeable about your business and you can even prep them beforehand. This strategy serves two purposes: 1) Social support can help reduce exhaustion/burnout. 2) You can divide and conquer (especially if they are more extroverted than you).

And finally, did you know that you can take a break during your networking event to recharge? These microbreaks are simple 10-minute intervals that allow you to recharge your energy so you can continue your networking. Even a one-minute break can be just as effective as a five, or nine-minute break. With microbreaks, you need to fully disengage from the task at hand – watch a funny YouTube clip, or read an engaging article on your phone. Excuse yourself for a few minutes so that you can step away, move to a less crowded area and not be disturbed.

These four simple steps can help you better manage your energy, which is a crucial (and sometimes limited) resource for many. Do you have any awesome tips for networking? Leave me a comment below!

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