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Posted on Sun, Feb 27, 2011 : 6 a.m.

Patience is more than just a virtue in networking

By Greg Peters


The wait isn't fun, but try to skip it and you'll miss the ride.

Photo by Michael Gray

Just prior to the recent birth of our second child, those who had contact with me know that the ideas of patience and waiting were very much on my mind. In particular, I was thinking about how difficult it is to be patient when you've done everything you can do to prepare. Now that Abigail is here, I need my patience just as much (even more at times) and not just with her.

But what does that have to do with networking?

Actually, networking is one activity that just doesn't work without patience. Think about it. We can do all the work to analyze our target market, to practice our event techniques, to follow up with our new connections and so on.

After that though, we can only be patient and wait. In fact, being patient and waiting are more than just virtues, they are necessities for good networking practice.

The challenge that most people run into is that they forget that networking is a long-term process. It's growing a garden, not hunting small game.

As soon as they forget that, they start making mistakes like slipping into a sales mindset or asking more of a relationship than would be appropriate. Think of it as the equivalent of planting a vegetable garden and then digging up the seeds each day in order to see if they've started growing yet.

A while back, I was allowed to go on a ride along with an Ann Arbor police officer. I learned a lot about law enforcement that day from Officer Steve Dye, but one of the things he said really stuck with me. We were on traffic detail, pulling over people who were speeding, cutting into oncoming traffic, and otherwise violating laws that are meant to keep everyone safe.

After pulling over a woman who had decided to use the bicycle lane to pass on the right, Officer Dye got back in the car, shaking his head and said, "Impatience will get you in trouble."

It's a truism in networking as well as traffic.

Greg Peters, founder of The Reluctant Networker LLC, writes, speaks and coaches about good networking practice. For more tips that can help your connections count, go to