One of my favourite activities is networking. Or it used to be. Now that I am on my own I notice that every minute has to count. Every meeting has to be shone through prism of business-necessity. There's no room in my diary anymore to chew fat or meet for the hell of it.
While my friendships are not suffering, I am taking less of those requests to meet up to discuss a new idea or with people who want to pick my brains. Not because I don't want to - I enjoy spouting and find most people interesting - but because I could, if I chose, spend a day a week doing this. As one of my more direct friends put it to me as I was agonising, `Are you a business or a helpline?'.
I had a very enjoyable phone call last week with Liam Black who set up wavelength a couple of years ago. He went through all the shit I am having now and knows the score when it comes to dealing with requests he has no time for. People like Liam are, for me, a bit of a life-line just now, along with several others you won't know like Mark Griffiths and Rob Harris - all entrepreneurs with their nuts on the block every day - so to speak.
Of course, aren't Liam, Mark et al doing for me what I am now not so willing to do for others? Yes and no. Yes, I get a lot from each of them. No in that I hope I reciprocate and make it feel worthwhile for them, on some level.
The truth, despite my bravado, is that I am a sucker for calls for help, especially if that person is nice or attractive or both. People's ideas tend to engage me and I know that in a half-hour I can often make a big difference (or so a couple have told me). So I won't be ignoring emails or sending back demands for payment - but I will be a bit more discriminating about who I help and for how long.
For as Liam Black correctly said, "Time is my only resource".