Business networking is the backbone supporting some of the biggest sectors of the economy. Real estate, health and medical insurance, commercial banking, and more are all heavily reliant on the synergy produced by in-person and online networking.
But in spite of appearances, business networking is not some casual pastime. It is very much a valuable professional skill that requires time and, of course, energy. Accordingly, if networking professionals do not properly manage their mental health, burnout is possible. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to reduce burnout and increase enjoyment of networking – all while majorly improving your results.
What is burnout?
In today's fast-paced, high-stress world, burnout has become a growing concern for professionals in all industries. Burnout is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion caused by long-term stress. It is characterized by feelings of cynicism, detachment, and a reduced sense of personal accomplishment, and can have serious implications for both personal and professional life.
One group of professionals who are particularly at risk for burnout are those in extroverted, person-to-person industries. This may include salespeople, customer service representatives, and those in the hospitality and healthcare fields. These individuals often interact with a large number of people on a daily basis, and can find themselves under constant pressure to perform at a high level.
How to avoid burnout
Here are some helpful strategies for busy, networking-based professionals to avoid burnout.
Self-care is not just for the weekends. If your in sales, marketing, or other networking based industries you’re interacting with many people per-day. This means difference personalities, energy levels, attitudes, and more. If you’re not careful about caring for yourself, it’s easy to get mixed up in the energy of others. That is why practicing self-care is the number of things you can do not only for your health, but also your success. Why? Because the better you feel the better you’ll perform - it’s as true and simple as that.
Here are some ways to incorporate self-care into a busy schedule:
- Make time for physical activity: Regular exercise can help reduce stress and improve mental clarity. Even a short walk or stretching session can make a difference.
- Practice mindfulness: This can be as simple as taking a few deep breaths or engaging in meditation. These activities can help calm the mind and reduce stress.
- Get enough sleep: Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night to ensure that you are well-rested and ready for the day ahead.
- Eat a healthy diet: Fuel your body with nutritious food to help maintain energy levels and manage stress. If you’ve only got limited time in your schedule for meal prep, consider a healthy meal planning app or using a delivery service that’s focused on healthy options rather than fast food. There’s even meal delivery for vegans available today, which is quick and convenient.
- Connect with others: Spending time with friends, family, and loved ones can help reduce stress and boost mood.
- Seek support: Don't be afraid to reach out to a therapist, coach, or support group if you're feeling overwhelmed.
It's important to set limits on your time and energy – doing so, in fact, is the only way to manage your stress, and managing stress is critical to your health, success, and sense of fulfillment.
Here are some tips for setting boundaries in the workplace:
- Communicate clearly: Clearly articulate your boundaries and expectations to clients, partners, and coworkers. This could mean stating your availability, or setting limits on the number of after-hours calls or emails you are willing to take.
- Limit negatively habitual technology usage: Consider limiting the amount of time you spend checking email or using other technology outside of work hours.
- Keep your networking organized: Use business networking tools like a digital business card to keep connections, follow-ups, and other energy-draining tasks to a minimum.
- Create a clear work-life balance: Set aside dedicated time for work and personal activities, and try to stick to it. This can help you avoid overextending yourself and reduce stress levels.
- Say no: It's okay to decline invitations or requests that would require you to exceed your boundaries or sacrifice your well-being.
Getting high-quality sleep is crucial for physical and mental well-being. You cannot underestimate the importance of sleep. Working hard is not the enemy of good sleep. Don’t romanticize not sleeping – instead live in balance and ultimately everything will reach its highest potential.
Busy networking professionals can improve their sleep quality by implementing the following habits:
- Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, including weekends.
- Creating a sleep-conducive environment by keeping the room cool, dark, and quiet and using a comfortable mattress and pillows.
- Practicing a relaxing pre-sleep routine such as reading, meditating, or taking a warm bath.
- Limiting exposure to screens (e.g. phones, computers, televisions) before bed as the blue light they emit can disrupt sleep.
- Avoiding caffeine, alcohol, and heavy meals close to bedtime.
- Engaging in regular physical activity and/or exposure to natural light during the day.
- Seeking the help of a healthcare professional if persistent sleep issues persist.
Be Calm, Take Breaks
Taking breaks during the workday is important to help you stay refreshed and focused. Here are some good things you can do during your breaks:
- Move your body: Stretch, take a walk, or do some light exercise to increase blood flow and reduce stress.
- Relax your mind: Practice deep breathing, meditation, or listen to calming music.
- Connect with others: Chat with coworkers, call a friend or family member, or join a virtual social gathering.
- Get creative: Draw, color, doodle, or engage in other activities that allow you to express yourself creatively.
- Nourish yourself: Eat a healthy snack, drink water, or make yourself a hot cup of tea or coffee.
Learning how and when to take breaks is a matter of listening to your body. However, since that can be difficult in the beginning, consider simply using a basic scheduling system such as every hour an alarm goes off on your phone reminding you to take a five to ten minute break. And then, twice per-day you take a fifteen to twenty minute break involving something physical like a walk. This is a great place to start.
Cultivate a Positive Mindset
A positive mindset both has to do with many things. Top among them are one, being non-judgmental and kind to others. Two, focusing on the present, here-and-now moment (as in the work or person in front of you, and not what you need to be doing in an hour or tomorrow or next week). And three, practicing gratitude.
Bringing attention to the things you’re grateful for in business as well as in life can have an enormous impact on maintaining a positive outlook, even in the face of challenges.
Here are some ways to practice gratitude:
- Keep a gratitude journal: Write down three things you're thankful for each day, no matter how small they may seem.
- Express gratitude to others: Take time to thank the people in your life who have made a positive impact, either through a phone call, text message, or in-person.
- Focus on the present moment: Pay attention to your experiences and try to find something to be grateful for in each moment, whether it's the beauty of nature or a simple act of kindness from a stranger.
- Practice mindfulness: Slow down and take a few deep breaths, and focus on the sensations of your body and the present moment.
- Give back: Participate in volunteer work or donate to a cause you care about, which can help shift your focus from what you lack to what you have to give.
Burnout-Free Business networking
By implementing these strategies, professionals in extroverted, person-to-person industries can reduce the risk of burnout and maintain their well-being. Burnout is a serious issue, but with the right approach, it can be prevented and overcome. By taking care of yourself and setting boundaries, you can thrive in your professional and personal life.
Want more business networking tips?
- What Job Seekers Need to Know About Networking
- Business networking when you have social anxiety
- New ways to build your business network