limits on utility of growing a network

so the last time i wrote about something like this was actually around this same time last year. and i wrote back then:

i notice in myself a diminishing desire to go to ‘networking’ style events…

i imagine at a certain point (maybe size of network), there must be a tradeoff between the time spent building a network versus time spent strengthening your existing network and/or utilizing it to get things done…

i’ve only been to a few events like this this year and i’m already feeling tapped out.

why i’m feeling tapped out is a little different this year than last year, though. what’s new this year is that i’m noticing that i just have a limited to capacity to even follow up with people even though in the room there were very real things i wanted to connect about. last week i went to a health conference in oakland and i have eight business cards from other people. each has a note i wrote to myself about what to follow up with that person about. as i look at them, i feel overwhelmed knowing how much coordination it’s going to take to make good on all those followups… (did i mention i really want to hire an assistant? but not in the shitty, patriarchial way assistants have usually worked… it’s a thought in evolution… anyways!)

and this is just one event. i’ve been to two other similar things this year (the boston urban farming conference and the 2nd convening of the mel king community fellowship) and it’s only may. i have a 2 day one at the end of this week (listening to the city), a 7 day one at the beginning of june (evolutionary leadership), and another one near the end of august (the better selves fellowship). and those are just the ones i can foresee.

i think maybe i need to set myself a limit next year. i really want to use my energy well and i worry that spreading my attention too thin across all these new connections isn’t actually effective.

i really like this paragraph in adrienne maree brown’s new book on emergent strategy (which already feels like it’s going to be a movement book of our time, for sure). i think the part about limits is really resonating with me right now.

I am learning to engage in generative conflict, to say no, to feel my limits, taking time to feel my heartache when it comes…

as i was writing this i had a chart show up for me about how i think network-building events/moments and the time in between them relates to productive capacity over time. tomorrow, i think i’ll sketch and write that out. exciting!

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