Better Networking… Part I


So I’m speaking with a small business owner when suddenly the subject of networking comes up.

“Oh, shoot… that reminds me…” he says. “I have a networking function that I have to attend tonight… man, I really hate those things.”

It’s amazing how many people, especially at the top, feel that way.

Having spent the majority of the last twenty-five years in either a President or Chief Executive role, I’ve heard many business owners express similar sentiments about networking meet and greets… the feelings of obligation, the lack of acceptable return on investment, the temptation or habit to fall into an obvious sales mode, and on and on.

So, back to my friend.  Actually, there were two distinct parts to his statement… each of which raised questions from a leadership point of view.  I asked both.  First, I wondered why he felt compelled to invest time at an event which he clearly had no desire to attend.  Second, I asked him why he “hated” something that could have such a profoundly positive impact on his business.

The conversation that followed really took the pressure off him, and I’d like to share those insights with you over the next day or two.


Regarding the first question, as small business owners… as leaders… as those held accountable for the results of our actions or inactions… we must control our calendar.  If you really think your time is better engaged elsewhere… then, by all means do it.

The decisions we make regarding our schedules should be driven by activities that move us toward the accomplishment of our priorities and responsibilities… not in achieving the many and varied expectations of others that compete for our time.

“I know, but that’s just it… they expect me to be there…” he said.

I asked him if he would fly back to attend this event if he were on business in Los Angeles, or on vacation in London.

“Well, no… of course not.”

So, there you go.  At any one specific time, we can do anything we want… but we can’t do everything that there is to do.  If we are here, then we are not there.  I suggested that next time, he simply have another appointment… one that leads him toward a goal in another area of his life… one that has a higher priority than whatever it is he wants to avoid. 

If nothing else, make an appointment with your spouse or children.  They’ll love you for it.


Now, all that said… we’re still left with the question as to why this gentleman… and so many others… have such an aversion to networking?  After all, there is little else that can so quickly create influence for your small business.

“Influence…?!  I thought networking was all about sales!”

Yeah, I know… and that’s why so many hate it.  We’ll take this pressure off tomorrow.


I look forward to hearing from you.


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