It’s the offseason now in many sports. In others, the offseason approaches. Off the field, a lot of us share the sense that the summer should be downtime. I was talking with an associate, Paul Greiner about this the other day. Paul is a consultant that helps business owners and leaders make the leap from okay to extraordinary. He sees the offseason as an opportunity to improve and set your business up for the busy time. We’re both from Buffalo, NY, and we both have fond memories of street parties, boating, playing golf, or anything else that could get us outside. Of course, we both take the opportunity to relax in the summer (in fact I just came back from a vacation which is why there were no new posts this week—until now), but this seems like a good time to look at how we handle down time when we get it.
We want to play. And we should! But we also need to use downtime as an opportunity to take care of business. After all, that’s what athletes do—they certainly use the offseason to play, but the ones who make it happen in the game are the ones who train hard, too.
All businesses have slow periods. If you don’t make good use of yours, you’ll really notice the impact a few months later.
So how can you make the most of your downtime in business? What can you do, besides just being aware of the pattern?
1. Meet New People
Networking has never been easier—or harder. There are so many ways to connect that developing a coherent strategy can be difficult. If you aren’t sure which direction to go, focus on just one social network and focus on building relationships there, not just talking at people. The whole point of networking is to interact (ask questions, show interest, give value), and as long as you are interacting with people, you’re networking.
You might not see the benefits of networking immediately, and the results might be hard to assess, but success in business usually comes down to relationships and downtime is the perfect time to work on yours.
I’m not just talking about light summer reading. Go ahead and do that, too, but I’m suggesting reading blogs, books, or other content specifically within your industry (use the Feedly app we wrote about to help you organize your news and blog reading). Find out who is doing what and what changes or disruptions might be right around the corner. Athletes use training time in the offseason to learn about new rules or new styles of play and you can do the same. Plus, it’s a good idea to contact the writers who are active in your field– they may become new partners, allies, or employees that way.
That’s right, use your downtime for physical training, just like athletes do. Many feel that we have no time to be active when things are busy at work. In your personal offseason, that excuse goes right out the window. So take care of your mind with exercise. You’ll gain energy and inspiration and be better able to focus when business picks up again.
Use your downtime strategically because that’s what your competition is doing. In sports we always hear about players working out harder because they know their competition is–if that’s not enough reason for you, then either you are happy with where you are or you’re scaling back your business (which is okay if that’s what you want).
When the season starts, you gain experience and that’s big, but the offseason, the down time, that’s a time to grow. If you engage yourself, you can’t help but getting better.