What I learned this week:
I ended up on around eight calls this week with non-clients. I guess you could call that networking, but it ends up being a double-edged sword.
Story time. When I started learning about entrepreneurship and building my network, that’s what I spent 90% of my time doing: networking. I used the technique I documented in this week’s hack to find hundreds of emails, and over the course of about a year, I interviewed about a hundred startup founders and entrepreneurs.
That was critical to my early education. If you’re still figuring shit out, send more emails. Talk to tech founders, business owners, entrepreneurs, freelancers, everyone. Email people already doing what you want to do and ask to pick their brains. But, after a certain point, this becomes a trap.
Meeting people makes you feel productive.
Hopping on calls, emailing people, going to events, “networking.” All of it makes me feel like I’m doing something. And if you’re at the beginning of your career, you’re figuring stuff out and you need a network, DO IT. Get out there, and talk to everyone you can.
But if you’re like me, just barely past that first stage of learning, and you’re trying to create something? Stop immediately. It’s a massive distraction when you try to start building something for yourself. Here’s why.
My productivity revolves around my to-do list. I have larger goals that I break down into to-dos on a daily basis. Here’s an example:
I need to get paid. In order to do that, I need subscribers. In order to get subscribers, I need marketing. In order to do marketing, I need a website. In order to make my website nice, I need a few videos…
That’s typically how work functions. One step at a time. It sounds obvious, but in order to make progress, you need to finish steps in the path towards that goal.
But when you hop on calls, go to events, and email people because you “think there might be something we can do to help each other” you’re wasting your time. You can still do it - I still hop on calls for fun, but networking for the sake of “maybe” will always make you feel SO productive. I’ve spent entire days out and about, bouncing from event to event, meeting all sorts of awesome professionals, and filling my pockets with business cards of important people.
But once I stopped, I realized how much free time I had and how much more I got done by sitting at my computer and actually working down my to-do list. I started to have more to show for myself. I started reaching goals, making money, and being genuinely productive.
Long story short: Be aware that networking is only useful at the very beginning of your path towards building anything. Here’s a useful hack I’ve done to start cutting down time on meetings: Batch them on certain days.
I use Calendly, another amazing tool you should try. It makes scheduling meetings SO easy. But, I set my availability to only include Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. That way, nobody can pop something on my calendar Monday and Friday, and those days remain exclusively reserved for working on my personal to-do list.
As a result, the middle of my week can get crazy with meetings, but I get so much more done. I would highly recommend you do the same. It saves a lot of stress and time.