This post was originally published on January 12, 2012 on Forbes.com.
There are few things in New York City as nerve-wracking as trying to reload your Metro Card while your train is pulling into the station. The fairly simple process of topping off your account turns into a scramble to punch the touchscreen buttons faster and hope you picked the one machine at your station that will read your credit card on the first swipe.
There are few things in business as nerve-wracking as trying to rekindle professional relationships when you are suddenly in need of a bigger network. The fairly simple process of keeping your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn connections up to date suddenly becomes a mad dash of updating professional details, digging out the business cards you'd forgotten about from that conference in Las Vegas last summer, and starting emails with "You may not remember me but..."
Last month Facebook acquired Gowalla, where I led the business development and global brand partnership initiatives. The past two years were filled with conferences, meetings, and new connections that transcended industry and geography. As a company we were fortunate to be in the right place at the right time on more than one occasion. As the front man for most of the deals we had the opportunity to do, I was often the one sent to shake hands and swap business cards.
Being able to tap a couple thousand people in my network in an instant has almost completely eliminated the stress of the search for where I will end up next. The best time to be building your network is when you don't need to be building your network.