You can drive all over, or you can stay close to home…….

So you’re either out of work or taking the next steps to launch your new business…or you’ve made that leap already.

You’re hungry, determined, focused and ready to work 16-hour days, overcome any obstacle and even forage for food.

I’ve been there. I get it. But there’s a better way.

I started by going all over:

When I first started my business, I was determined to drive from Olympia to Salem, grab any business I could, take on the world, go to every meeting, rotary, quilting bee and get it done! Here’s the problem that took awhile to break through my stubbornness: You can spend a lot of time traveling, doing things and otherwise burning off that energy you have – but with no real results.

After a good year of this approach, it finally dawned on me that all of my driving, meeting with anyone (and I mean anyone that had a business card) was not really getting me anywhere.

It was after I met with two people in my networking – both at different Chamber groups that I was taught a lesion I didn’t expect: networking close to home isn’t lazy, it’s smart and practical.

The first person I spoke with – Katie – owns a dog training business where she goes to the client’s home and sometimes they gather as a class. She had targeted a part of town that was close to her and east of I-5. She attempted to take on some clients just across I-5 towards Hwy 217 in Beaverton (for those of you not local – it’s a 1970’s 2 lane Hwy with terrible jams). Inevitably, she and her clients had traffic problems, missed appointments. It wasn’t worth it.

Why I now network closer to home:

The second person was a new visitor to my local Chamber that I reached out to learn more about and see if I could offer some support. I shared with him my story of grit and he kindly shared with me the data from the insurance company he worked for: most of your clients will come within a 7 mile radius of your location.

That day I went home, drew a radius on Google maps, and felt a sense of relief. Finally! Focus! Those two conversations cut me loose from that Midwestern guilt of “Are you working hard enough?” and let me focus on my immediate area.

Sure there’s more to the story and other branches of it we could go down. My point is that when you’re networking, it’s easy to go all out, in every direction. Don’t. It’s a recipe for frustration, not good for your mental health, and not a good use of your time – even if you have a lot of that time.

Sometimes, you need to take a job or client involving long drives. I get it. But do yourself a favor – draw the circle. See what’s reasonable first.