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:

network budget
200 hours and $1000 is the minimum amount of time and money you should spend maintaining your network every year.
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  • 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.
  • Meals.
  • Stationery (Thank you cards, Correspondence cards, Holiday cards, and Birthday cards in particular. See below for a special offer on Holiday cards)
  • Stamps.
  • 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.

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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?

12 thoughts on “Your Networking Budget – 200 Hours and $1000

  1. Carol Dublin says:

    I like the way you break this down – makes it seems less imposing to spend so many hours – but it is so important to network and connect. Connecting has been one of the things I have focused on this year, and this gives me some ideas on how to change my tactics for next year. Thanks for the great post.

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      I’d like to think (see my previous post on habits) that if you spend one year really focusing on connecting, it will be come habit and less of a forced effort and more of “who you are”

  2. Lily Kreitinger says:

    It is all about relationships and the biggest expense is giving of yourself.

  3. Jon Stolpe says:

    Great challenge, Matt. I think I’ve got the time thing down (or at least I’m on the way towards this). Now for the second part…!

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      Yes you go my friend! You are rocking some Thank You Thursdays!

      1. Jon Stolpe says:

        It was pretty cool at the office today. Last week, I had written a Thank You note to someone in the office. I put it in his mailbox where it sat for several days. After being out of the office for a few days this week, I was back in the office to finish off the week. As I was walking through the office this afternoon, I noticed that he had put my Thank You note on the shelf in his cubicle. Before the end of the day, he popped his head up as I was at the copier, and he shot me this huge smile. You could tell that I had made his day. The Thank You Thursday Revolution continues!

      2. Matt McWilliams says:

        Dude. Guest post 🙂

  4. Joe Sousa says:

    Great stuff Matt. I would also add donating to charities your network is involved in to your list. Most of the people I know who are heavily involved in charities would rather have a $50 donation to their cause than a $50 gift.

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      Good point Joe.

      Speaking of which, I love that you blogged about Vinny and Deb. I heard back from her yesterday finally.

      Is there anything else we can do to help them? Anyone going over there by chance or will that need to wait a while?

      1. Joe Sousa says:

        Liz Fogg, Deb’s daughter was over there this past week. It seems like they have power, food, warm clothes, heat, and the essentials like that back. They are working on cleaning the house up as much as can be done anyway. Once the insurance adjuster gets there I think they can start getting everything fixed.

        Based on what I saw when I went down to the Mississippi coast after Katrina I am guessing they will need to totally gut the house. Rip out cabinets, floors, walls, etc. but I don’t know for sure. I haven’t heard from them directly yet so I don’t know of too many specifics as to what they need.

      2. Matt McWilliams says:

        Thanks Joe!

        Email me please if you do. Love to help if I can.

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