This post is going to sound overly arrogant.
After all, I’m “all about networking,” right? I talk about “nurturing the relationship,” right?
<start arrogance here>
Recently I got an email from someone saying they knew me through so-and-so and they wanted to have lunch with me. It was more than a “get to know you chat,” it was a “you’ve done this and that and I want to learn from you.”
I get this type of free lunch invitation regularly. All the time.
In the past I have taken the opportunity to do it. I meet with the person, they buy me lunch, I get excited and share all kinds of ideas, and they walk away energized and thankful.
And then I never hear from them again.
For me, a lunch usually means three hours out of the office, IF you meet me at a restaurant close to my office.
After those three hours I don’t hear from you, ever. Until the next time you want to buy me a free lunch.
When I got one of the last requests I replied that I’d be happy to meet with the person, for $250/hour.
That is my hourly rate.
Why did I do this? Is it good “networking?”
NOPE. It isn’t good networking. But I’m running a business, and I have to manage my time.
I could probably swing a free lunch every day for a month. I bet I could.
Let’s say that is 20 days. I will get about $250 of free lunches. To get that I’ll spend 20 days * 3 hours = 60 hours, in ONE MONTH, on helping people.
That’s nice … helping people for 60 hours.
But it is not sustainable. It usually doesn’t help my business. I miss 60 hours of work. And my shirt fits tighter around the waist :p
Is it wrong for me to say “give me $250 and I’ll meet with you?”
Maybe it is for a lot of people. But I have to do it.
Peter Shankman, a guy who has had an amazingly successful career (<– that is an understatement) wrote a similar post last year based on a tweet:
I know this sounds grossly arrogant, but there is a real issue here. It might be about respect. It might be about valuing the information. It might be about supply/demand (my time, your needs). I’m not sure what the issue is, but there is an issue.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m missing out on a lot of networking opportunities, and the chance to meet a lot of cool people.
I’ll take the loss, because I have a business I’m running. You wouldn’t give your product, or service, or time, away, all the time, would you?
I can’t either.