While technology helps connect executives to their colleagues and personal associates, it has also extended the workweek for most professionals. According to a report from the Center for Creative Leadership, or CCL, sixty percent of smartphone-using executives spend around seventy-two hours per week on work-related activities.
So how can you fit networking into your schedule?
Attend Industry Events
A lack of time might lead you to skip social activities, but industry events allow you to network while you accomplish other goals. Writing for Training magazine, Keystone Partners’ Managing Partner Elaine Varelas advises executives to meet with other industry colleagues, either formally or otherwise, especially when looking for new talent.
Trade shows, conferences, and other formal events allow you to assess the competition and to meet with potential clients. However, Varelas also recommends connecting electronically via social applications like LinkedIn. Executive MBA (EMBA) graduates should seek a balance between electronic and in-person networking opportunities. If you don’t have time to attend an industry event, consider joining an industry-related group online. Varelas suggests that executives take a few minutes to explore second-tier connections on LinkedIn and other social media platforms. You might “meet” someone new because of his or her association with one of your existing contacts.
Reconnect With Past Associates
While industry events provide you with a chance to meet new people, don’t neglect the individuals you’ve known for years. In an interview with the Young Entrepreneur Council for Inc magazine, humanitarian Ming Chang points out that networks evolve as time passes, and that sometimes you can find value in reconnecting with people you met as you started your education or career.
For instance, you might send a Facebook message or an email to your first boss or your college professor. You don’t have to initiate a lengthy conversation right away, either. Simply send an invitation to connect via social media so you remain in one another’s virtual networks.
Lend a Helping Hand
Whether it’s a new acquaintance or an old colleague, offering assistance can serve as a valuable networking tool. In an article for Payscale.com, work-life balance expert Jen Hubley Luckwaldt recommends sending news about job openings to people in your network who are currently looking for employment.
As an executive, you know that good deeds often inspire professionals to return the favor. Plus, forwarding an email or a job advertisement takes only a few seconds of your time. Add a brief personal note, and then move on. Daniel Alley of Entrepreneur magazine adds that, when you grant someone else a favor, you automatically create “an immaculate network of those who want to serve you.”
Too-busy executives don’t have to forego networking entirely. If you can fit the above activities into your schedule, you’ll make it easier to make new connections and to revisit old ones for the good of your career — not to mention your relationships.