Photo courtesy of Unsplash. As always.

Peripheral vision

How do you keep up with an entire network of people? Like, truly keep up with everyone in the network?

If we’re limited by the number of folks we can stay closely connected to — the “inner circle,” if you will — are we supposed to send out a yearly Christmas card to everyone on the periphery? My gut says this is incorrect. And hard.

When in school, it was much easier to stay in touch with a lot of people thanks to proximity. You had a large part of your network in the confines of a campus. Since graduating, everyone spreads out. Although I’m lucky to have a lot of people in the Bay Area, I still have friends who dispersed to other parts of the country and other parts of the world. Plus, I’m meeting so many more people than I would’ve ever done on campus. Living in a city and working in an industry built on meeting people means my second-tier contacts list is growing.

My peripheral vision needs sharpening.

To solve this problem, I could set aside time every week, month, or year to send notes to people in my network. I could reach out to at least one person in my network every day. I could use Facebook birthdays or LinkedIn updates as excuses to follow up with folks. But it all feels disingenuous.

It’s crucial that I don’t lose the tightness of the people closest to me while maintaining a larger network. In the words of the great Ron Swanson, never half-ass two things: whole-ass one thing.

If I’m going to whole-ass one thing, it’ll be maintaining and developing the relationships with the people closest to me. The periphery will remain the periphery, and people will move in and out of the inner circle. And I’ll just have to live with that.

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