I have a confession to make. There is a binge/purge pattern to my networking. Whenever the pipeline dries up, I panic and fill my calendar with breakfasts and lunches. I call referral sources and prospects with a sudden need to be social. But after a marathon month of meetings, I burn out and stop altogether. A month or so later, the pattern starts all over again.
In his book "Good to Great," Jim Collins likens business growth to a flywheel: you push and you push until it eventually starts to spin of its own accord without much further effort. But in my experience, business development is more like a bicycle. Sure, if you pick up speed and face a downward slope, you can coast for a while, but if you stop pedaling altogether, the momentum eventually slows to a stop. You have to keep putting in the effort. You have to establish a routine—a happy medium somewhere between binge and purge. Maybe it's two networking lunches a week. Maybe it's four. The key is to find the right pace for you and sustain it.
As for me, it's time to shift into low gear and start pedaling again. But it won't be the same reactive, frantic exertion I’ve forced myself to produce in the past. My new plan is to establish a reasonable routine so that this time, I can maintain momentum.