Do For One, What You Wish You Could Do For Everyone (in Networking)

NetworkingAll credit for this topic and concept goes to Andy Stanley who discussed this big idea in a Buckhead Church Sunday message as well as in a leadership podcast. For me, it took on meaning in several different ways. One way that I found this topic applicable was from a business relationship or networking perspective. I absolutely love connecting people. I love helping people make connections that enable them to move their businesses forward. I love helping people connect into a new career. I love helping philanthropic organizations connect to businesses interested in community engagement. I love coaching and mentoring friends and colleagues on career and personal development. It's just part of my DNA. More importantly, I appreciate "quality" connections, relationships and friendships - not just numbers.

One challenge "connected" and "connector" people face is, how to divide their time between friends in the software business looking for the next deal (and want to be connected), friends that are desiring to leave one company to get a job at another (and want to be connected), friends looking for tickets to the next hot event or concert (and want to be connected), friends looking for that one piece of advice, guidance or introduction that can propel their career to the next level, and the list goes on. If you are a connector, you understand this completely and could probably add to this list.

The challenge is...how do you manage your time and still maintain quality relationships? How do you ensure that you are an outstanding performer in your job, and still meet the needs of all of the people asking for your time, talents and dollars? The answer is...you can't. It's not fair to everyone in your network or every one of your relationships, but its reality.

Unfortunately, many leaders take a bunker mentality when they find themselves in a higher-level leadership role in an organization. They disappear and cast aside all relationships and find themselves on an island with their work.

There is a way to find balance and the answer involves four thought principles:

Thinking strategically about how you spend your time >  What are your priorities in life, at work, at home? >  What activities, organizations and events are my priorities this month, quarter, year? Which are a "must?"

Thinking tactically about how you spend your time >  Who are the members of my "personal advisory board?" I want to ensure I cultivate these relationships. >  Who are the individuals in that "next level" of relationship in which I would like to invest? Good friends, colleagues, network pillars.

Getting beyond "surface" chatter and investing long-term >  Who do I really want to know - beyond the typical "breakfast" conversation? >  Who am I going to invest in for the long-term? Not just this month or until the next job...long-term.

There is no way to meet every person in your network regularly for breakfast, lunch, drinks or dinner. You are never going to get every software vendor or consulting partner a project opportunity at the firm. You cannot give every financial planner that calls a piece of your business. Someone must be let down. But instead of doing nothing for anyone, find a way to do for one, what you wish you could do for everyone.