The measure of your network is not how many people are in it, but rather how many people would take your call at 3 am from your Jail Cell in Mexico.
Much like Blogging, it’s not who you read, its who Reads you, or the Cliche “its not who you know, its who knows you.” Mark Cuban used to leave comments on my blog, and there was a time if I said my name, he’d know who I was, but these days while I have his e-mail, and could probably get a meeting, he wouldn’t float me $500 to bail me out of a jail in Mexico.
Robert Scoble might just because it would make a good story on his blog, but it’s not like we are drinking buddies. I’m pretty sure the same goes for Jason Calcanis, though I don’t have his number in my cell phone so getting him on the phone might take a bit of effort.
This is the difference between name dropping, and networking. I have pictures of me with Simon Cowell, and I had drinks by his pool, but I’d never think to call him if I needed bailed out. I’m not sure I could even get him to take a meeting on a moments notice.
In my recent post about networking, I said it was important to get contacts in to LinkedIn, but it is equally important to maintain those relationships. If I had found excuses to meet with Simon every 3 months, maybe I could be dating someone who didn’t make it on American Idol, or be doing technology for something related to his projects, but I didn’t, so that contact is now someone I can name drop, someone I can honestly say I worked with, but not someone who I can leverage to help a deal, or get a perspective from.
Every 90 days, and certainly at the New Year, you should make an effort to call and say “Hi, was thinking of you, just wanted to see what you are working on” to all of your contacts. This will help you stay fresh in their mind, and often presents opportunities.
You never know when INS is going to mistake you for your gardener and you will find yourself in Mexico City wishing you had 3000 pesos for bail so you could get back to the US.