When I worked at my last J O B, I networked, a lot. I’m talking Monday – Friday, every day. Multiple networking meetings, lunches, coffees…all in the name of building relationships to get sales.

I made some great friends and had some awesome meals at the expense of my company, but in all honesty, it was a complete waste of time.

Ten years ago, that’s how things were done. You had coffee, you learned who the ideal client was for each person, strategic partners, etc.

I was a big connector. I was constantly matching people up with perfect strategic partners and potential clients. People would call or email me asking who I knew for whatever their needs were.

The funny thing is, I rarely received a referral in return. With the business I was in, it was difficult to find good referrals for me. I was OK with that…I was having fun meeting new people. My boss, well he wasn’t quite as happy about it.

In the past ten years since I went out on my own and began my virtual assistant company, I have not had a “coffee date”. I stopped going to networking meetings. And lunch is usually at my desk.

I no longer have the luxury of time to get dressed up to kiss ass and schmooze with sales reps from other companies. I don’t get a paycheck for having lunch with the president of a bank anymore. And to spend half of my day getting dressed up, driving in traffic to a networking function, was just not feasible.

I recently read an article from Daring Woman podcast guest, Pia Silva. The article talks about the “can I pick your brain” meetings. I’m guilty of asking to pick people’s brains and I’m even more guilty of letting others pick mine.

I’m a people pleaser by nature and I don’t like to say no. But I’ve had to learn. My time is precious. I have just four years left until my youngest girls graduate from high school and go out on their own. I have precious time left with my remaining parent who needs my time to help care for her. I have precious time to spend with my grandbabies and husband.

Time is fleeting and needs to be protected at all costs.

Pia states:

“Once you start to think about how many valuable things you can do in an hour or two, you start to value your time appropriately. It’s not a stretch to think, “People literally pay me for this exact information,” when people make these coffee requests. When you finally get into that mindset, you’re able to do everything you can to protect it.”

Could you imagine Bill Gates going out for coffee just to let someone pick his brain? Or Richard Branson?

No. They know the value of their time and guard it at all costs.

You and I need to do the same.

Now I’m not saying don’t go to networking meetings, or have coffee dates. But you need to be choosey. What is the purpose of the meeting? What kind of people will be there? What are the possible outcomes?

“You never know who they might know”—the FOMO of the business world—is one of the worst myths entrepreneurs tell themselves.

When I read that in Pia’s article, I thought OMG…that was my mantra for so long. I went for coffee or had phone calls with everyone because I thought, hey…I don’t know who they know.

Basically, it’s a way to make ourselves feel better about wasting time having highly overpriced and overbrewed coffee.

What are you giving up for that meeting? Money, time with your kids, time for yourself…and why would you let someone just pick your brain when you get paid for the exact same information?

When you really break it down, those coffee dates, are just silly.

Think about it. How valuable is your time?

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Originally published at www.daringwomanmagazine.com