Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Time Value of Participation

Is it better to go to more networking events and spend less time at each or go to less networking events and spend more time at each? We are all busy people and as such we often compromise our networking results by partially attending events. Sometimes we arrive late and other times we leave early.

Suppose you have a 3-hour networking event on your calendar. Which hour of your participation do you feel has the most potential return for you: the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd hour? The 3rd consecutive hour of participation has considerably more return potential than the 1st hour. Assuming the average networker can meet 6 new people per hour (see the chart below) and that each person they talk to understands their story, then at the end of 3 hours the average networker will have 120 potential connections.

  • During the 1st hour the networker meets 6 people
  • During the 2nd hour the networker meets 6 people and the 6 people they met in the 1st hour meet 6 people each (additional point of connection)
  • During the 3rd hour the networker meets 6 people and the 6 people they met in the 1st and 2nd hours meet 6 people each

The ultimate goal is for you to connect someone you just met to someone you met earlier in the event, or for someone to do that for you. Accomplishing this level of return is not easy. It takes a clear and focused message, good preparation, and networking with similarly competent people. Networking at this level requires strong interdependence.

This strategy creates even more return when you apply it to participation over weeks, months, and years with the same set of like minded people. The leverage in networking is best developed by building high-quality intimate relations with a few key people rather than superficial relationships with many. The bottom line: attend less meetings better.

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