If your office is anything like our office, your work day is hardly 9-5. In fact, that’s only half of the hours you clock in each day, sandwiched between your 7 a.m. networking coffees and after work happy hours that turn into dinners sponsored by insert chosen professional development organization here. By the time you crawl into bed, you have 10 business cards, four promises to set follow-up meetings, and barely enough time to close your eyes before it’s time to do it all over again.
Now, part of this busy-ness is a result of growing businesses in a growing community, and that’s a good thing. Greenville is an altruistic business community, genuinely interested in working together to help all of us succeed. We are good at forging fruitful partnerships between unlikely allies, and those relationships are only built after investing some time in one another.
But as a young professional still getting my feet wet in this world, sometimes I (Sarah) have to stop and ask myself, “how much is too much?” There are plenty of times when I’ve left a networking event feeling great about the connections I’ve made, but just as many occasions where I can’t remember the name of the person that I just talked to. That information overload is partially my own fault – I am a victim of FOLO.
What is FOLO, you ask?
You’ve probably heard of FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out on fun with friends. Well, in the professional sense, I think it’s more of fear of losing out (FOLO). Fear of losing out on your next big client, or losing out on finding your next great career move, for the sake of finding more balance in your schedule. And while it’s true that you never know who will be across the table from you at a networking event, it’s also true that it doesn’t really matter who’s across the table from you if you’re too tired from the week to ask them engaging questions.
Each of these networking events has value, but that value differs based on where you are professionally and personally. FOLO tells us that it’s wasted opportunity to back out of these extracurricular events. But smart business sense tells us that it’s wasted time to fill the schedule for the sake of filling the schedule.
We are a culture that champions the “yes”, in business and in life. The “yes” is why FOMO is legitimate enough to be included in Webster’s dictionary (seriously). But as young professionals, we may actually get more value out of mastering the art of the polite “no thank you.” That way, we can conserve our energy for the emphatic “yes” moments that will inevitably happen.
Happy Friday, and we’ll see you at the next networking event. Although if you politely decline, we’ll understand.