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It was the room in my home I avoided at all costs.  What the room held captive was terrifying and vile.  You know the room (or closet or corner or other storage space) I’m talking about: that extra space that becomes the depository for extra…stuff.  Boxes and boxes, pile after pile of stuff.

You know how this happens.

First you stack one pile of things in there. Just to get them out of the way. Or because there’s no place to put them and company is coming. Then you innocently add another. And another.  And always with great haste and with no particular plan or sense of organization.   Then you have to go in there to look for something, and you begin frantically tearing through the stacks until you find said item. That is, if you have a prayer of finding said item amidst the chaos.  The mess sprawls out everywhere and begins to actually swell, and grow. Perhaps even reproduce.

This room quickly becomes what my mother used to call… a “rat’s nest.”

Well, last Saturday, I decide I’d had enough.

What had prevented me from taking on this project – from turning chaos to clarity – sooner?

So many shallow reasons and lame excuses:

  • Overwhelm
  • Stress
  • Lack of clarity on where to start
  • No vision as to what success looked like
  • Exhaustion at the very thought of doing it
  • Imagining that it was way more difficult and daunting than it had to be
  • It was low on my list of priorities – I had much better things to do.
  • I just didn’t feel like dealing with it
  • The sun was in my eyes…

Funny: these are some of the very same excuses many of us use for not networking and keeping up with our friends, colleagues and contacts!

“How / where will I find the time???”   “It’s all so terrifying.”   “Whatever shall I do?”

Let’s examine how I handled my Room from Hell project, and see if you don’t think some of these ideas can be applied (even abstractly) to your (real or imagined) networking procrastination.

  1. I realized the negative effects and impact that not fixing the problem was having on me.  I was feeling embarrassed, stressed, overwhelmed, and totally drained every time I went into the room.  Or ventured near the room.  Or even glanced at the closed door! I knew what was in there. (That closed door? That’s denial. It works for awhile, but not in the long run. You know this.)
  2. I got fed up. I decided I had had enough! I wanted to empower myself.
  3. I created a positive vision.  Perhaps I could turn the room into that art studio I’ve always wanted?  Or a lovely sewing  or craft room? Perhaps a meditation sanctuary! And I could finally order that new carpet I’d been wanting. Which would make the entire upstairs nicer, prettier, more welcoming.  Oh boy!!!
  4. I chose, I decided – I set the intention – to make the project a priority.
  5. I set the goal to at least start the project and make the room look better than it had before.
  6. I scheduled the time to do the project.
  7. I gathered my energy and focus with a good night’s rest the night before and some strong coffee the morning of.
  8. I discovered the power of momentum. Honestly, getting started was the hardest part. As Mary Poppins said, “Once begun is half done.”
  9. I was organized and methodical; one step at a time: I approached the project by category.
  10. I was prepared with necessary supplies.  I had storage bins and giant trash bags at the ready.
  11. I noticed and applauded my progress. There was quite a lot to haul off to Goodwill and to the trash bin. Some items were worth saving and storing. Some items were even put back into active use!  I could already feel my energy shifting and my home “breathing” again.  It was glorious!
  12. I didn’t try to do it all in one day. I paced myself.  I took little breaks.  For snacks, coffee, a little nap,  a walk with my pups.
  13. I continued to pay attention to my progress.  Once I did that,  I felt compelled to keep going.  (Okay, I got a little obsessed. Not necessarily a bad thing.)
  14. When I was finished, I noticed the huge improvement in how the room looked – and in how I felt. I was very glad I’d invested the time.
  15. I celebrated with a glass of really nice cabernet, a delicious dinner, and a juicy miniseries.  Yay me!

Now it’s your turn: How can you borrow these lessons and apply them to your networking, socializing, and desire to identify, attract, meet, and stay in touch with the people who matter to you? The people who can inspire you, help you, teach you things, support you when you’re a mess, motivate you to do things you didn’t think you could do?  The people who need you to do the same for them?

There are no easy or instant answers to being a more Intentional (and regular) Networker. No one is perfect, and we all have times when we are hermits or pre-occupied with other aspects of work or life.  I know this. But I hope I’ve convinced you to consider giving it a try.

Look back over my list above and see where you might find inspiration to take just a few minutes each day to reach out to people you enjoy, admire, find interesting, or need to get to know (or know better) in order to move forward with and make the most of your work and life. Take little baby steps.  Then bigger ones.  Watch for the value and the rewards of doing so. Trust me on this. You’ll see them.

Want to discover a more strategies, tips and ideas for becoming more purposeful, polished, present, and productive as you network?  Check out my award-winning book The Intentional Networker, available on Amazon and via most online retailers.

One last note: I can tell when people have actually read this book: they contact me to tell me how it’s changed their entire life! If you are already one of these people,  I thank you! If not, click here.