Effective time management is important if you want to make the most out of a networking event, and the reasons for this are equally important when networking online. When to arrive, when to leave, how long to focus on one person or one conversation or one topic – these are all concerns which will have an impact on how well you are received. Just as what you say and how you say it will affect what people think of it, so will your attention to timing.
It’s important to be punctual, but not just to show you can keep an appointment. Early arrival at a networking event and early arrival with web content have the same major benefit in common: when you’re one of the first there, you’re more noticeable. When you’re the last to the party, you’re just another face in the crowd. All too often, when a client needs a service done they’re just looking for the first person to demonstrate an ability to do the job. If you’re not there first, you might not be noticed at all. It’s true in having conversations with strangers, and it’s true when trying to convince the internet you’ve got something worth listening to.
Be respectful of other people’s time
It’s fine to show personality and connect with people in a meaningful way, but remember that you are engaging with them for a reason (and vice versa). When you chat with someone at a business networking event, you are assessing the possibility of working together, or using each other’s skills within your network. When you engage with people online, there has to be a similar sense of purpose.
Stagnation is an enemy. Whether in aimless conversation in person or in text online, don’t linger – be concise, be direct and know that your time, and your audience’s, is valuable. Social networking and chatting with strangers can be fun and lead to lasting relationships, but always be aware of how much time it is consuming, and how useful it really is in the long run. Ultimately, know what is worth developing, and when to move on…
Give everything the time it deserves
It’s a mistake to set arbitrary constraints on yourself: it’s no use aiming to amass a certain number of business cards in one event, or a certain number of views on an internet article, if none of it converts to anything. One meaningful conversation at a networking event might give you all the business you need, just as one meaningful piece of content can have a greater impact than a dozen half-hearted attempts.
On the other hand, don’t spend too long on prospects destined for failure. If you can tell a conversation is going nowhere, that you have nothing to discuss and no way to connect with a person, end it, tactfully, and move on. Likewise, if a piece of content isn’t working, or isn’t receiving the results you wanted, move on. Don’t spend too long working on edits, or answering extensive comments, when the time for that project has passed.
Knowing when to dwell on something and when to move on is a very important skill: if you think about your online audience in the same light as a networking crowd, you can appreciate the same time-respecting values in writing content. Be careful with how you spend your time, and don’t be afraid to adjust and adapt.