I get asked this question a lot: How do you find the “sweet spot” between being assertive and purposeful in your networking versus allowing circumstances, serendipity, and synchronicity to do their magic? In other words, when do you really go for it? And when do you relax and let things flow?
What an important question when it comes to being a more Intentional Networker!
Here’s a metaphor that might help you figure this out.
As some of you may know, I took up cycling this past year. I used to cycle back in college and in my early twenties. (Yes, that was eons go.) I gave it up after the neighborhood hoodlums (okay, they were only about 10 years old) pelted me with eggs one afternoon as I rode by their fortress (one of their dad’s pickup trucks). Or maybe I vowed cycling abstinence after the teenager in the little Corolla didn’t see me and nearly broadsided me. (And that was way before cell phones and texting.) I definitely I gave it up after I gave birth to my son, a very active and precocious child. The thought of being injured or in a body cast made me averse to just about any type of risky activity (other than attending the semi-annual Macy’s shoe sale). I was a mom, after all. In charge of and responsible for another. Life changed. But I’m back.
And on that note, I’ll get back to my point…
In the cycling world there are two ways to propel yourself forward. One is called mashing the other is called spinning. When you’re mashing you’re in a higher gear that takes more strength, but allows you to go farther with each pedal stroke. When you’re spinning you’re in a lower gear that takes less strength, but requires you to make more pedal rotations to go the same distance.
Everyone is different when it comes to mashing versus spinning. But there are some generalities. If you’re doing a short ride and want to get far quickly, intuition might tell you to mash. It seems more efficient. But when you start doing longer distances and will be on the bike for several hours or start attempting more daunting hills, spinning could be a better option. Mashing tends to tire out your muscles. It’s hard for them recover quickly once they’ve maxed out. With spinning, however, once you’re used to it and can find your perfect gear and cadence, you just cruise along, even when working your way up an incline. When you get tired from spinning, it’s more of a cardio-type fatigue, which you can recover from with a relatively short break and a little food and water.
So now ask yourself these questions:
- When it comes to networking, are you mashing or spinning?
- Are you intent on meeting certain people quickly, no matter what the cost?
- Are you forcing introductions, conversations, and requests on people, possibly wearing yourself (and them) out?
- Or are you willing to go the distance, certainly doing the work, but finding your perfect cadence and cruising along at a relatively relaxed pace, knowing you will eventually get to your destination?
Ah, grasshoppa, the answers you seek are here.
What other metaphors can you offer about networking? What works? What doesn’t?
NEWSFLASH: I just returned from a fantastic trip where I facilitated two interactive Intentional Networker workshops for high potential leaders interested in connecting and collaborating more easily and effectively with a diverse range of people within their organizations. We did a little mashing and LOTS of spinning (figuratively, not literally). It was a lot of fun for all of us! If you know of an organization or event that might find a learning experience like this valuable, please contact me today at patti[at]intentionalnetworker[dot]com.