At least 200 hours and $1000.
That is the minimum amount of time and money you should spend maintaining your network every year. That includes time, above and beyond your normal work time, spent:
- Emailing your network. See my post about maintaining a warm network for more on this.
- Calling your network.
- Writing to your network.
- Eating meals with your network.
- Meeting face-to-face with your network.
- At parties.
- Doing anything to connect with your network.
It also includes money spent on:
- Gifts / Flowers.
- Stationery (Thank you cards, Correspondence cards, Holiday cards, and Birthday cards in particular. See below for a special offer on Holiday cards)
- Anything else you can think of that costs money that could benefit your network.
“But I can’t afford to spend that much time or money just on my network.”
How can you afford NOT to spend that much time or money?
Sure, 200 hours and $1000 a year seems like a lot of money. Until you need your network. Until you see the return.
Can you afford to be without a job for six months when a warm network can get you one within six weeks? (Come to think of it, I just found the solution to the nation’s unemployment problems…better network maintenance. Ha!)
For the average American, six months with no job is worth approximately $24,000. If you find a job within a month, you are only out $4,000. That is a $20,000 difference. Great! You just made up for twenty years of spending money on your network right there.
I can’t tell you exactly how to spend your 200 hours and $1000 but it might look something like this:
- 50 hours – Emailing to stay in touch.
- 50 hours – Calling to stay in touch.
- 60 hours – Eating meals or otherwise meeting with people in person. (This includes travel time)
- 20 hours attending parties, networking events, or other large gatherings.
- 20 hours purchasing gifts, sending them, etc.
- $500 on meals. (They’ll buy some, you’ll buy some)
- $200 on gifts. (No one said you have to send them gold-plated pens, just something thoughtful)
- $150 on event fees.
- $150 on stationery and postage. (If you buy in bulk, you might spend more up front and have stationery that lasts few a couple of years)
I might be a little low on the total price tag, but $1000 looked better in the title than $1362, so I ran with it. You might spend more or less. Find the right number for you and work from there. If my plan seems too ambitious for you, start slow. Try the suggestions in my previous post on networking and work from there.
The point is to make SOME time and spend SOME money investing in the people you want to know better, who can help you, and whom you can help.
How do you spend your networking time and money? What works best for you?