It’s how you grow your network of contacts, expand your knowledge and expertise, and build relationships with people who can help you achieve your professional goals.
It also helps you learn more about your industry or niche and discover opportunities you might not have known existed before.
But effective networking can be challenging — especially if you’re new to it.
You may not know what to say at meetings, how to find events where people are interested in what you do, or how to cultivate new relationships that lead to growing connections.
That’s why setting networking goals for the coming year is so important.
It gives you something concrete to work toward and helps keep yourself accountable for reaching those goals.
In this article, we’ll go through some effective tips on how to set networking goals for 2023.
So if you’re ready, let’s begin!
What Are Networking Goals
Networking goals are a destination point you aim to achieve through your networking efforts.
These goals can be short-term, like getting a new job in the next 6 months.
Or they can be long-term, like building a relationship with someone who could help you land that dream job down the road.
Goals keep you focused on what’s most important and help you prioritize your time and energy to achieve the results that matter most to you.
But goals without purpose are just wishes.
So if you’re asking yourself why you are setting them, let us present you some meaningful reasons that will make you consider doing it.
Why Should You Set Networking Goals
The first step in setting effective networking goals is understanding why you want them in the first place.
Here are some reasons you might consider setting them:
- They help you build relationships and connections.
- They give you a sense of direction and purpose in your career.
- They keep you motivated and focused on what matters most to you at this moment in time.
- They give you something concrete to work towards that will stick with you over time (and possibly even beyond).
- You’ll be more productive – Knowing what needs to get done, it’s easier to prioritize which tasks should be done first so you can get them out of the way.
- You’ll have more energy. Setting goals gives your brain something specific to work towards, which can increase your productivity and energy level throughout the day.
- You’ll feel better about yourself when you accomplish those goals!
But how do you know what you want if you don’t set goals for yourself?
6 Effective Steps To Set Networking Goals
Let’s get through some effective steps to set networking goals and achieve them more easily.
1. Prioritize Goals for Your Network
The first step in setting goals is to define what your networking success will look like.
What do you want from your network?
Are you hoping for more referrals?
It could be getting yourself out there so that more people know who you are.
Whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, having a plan in place to help you achieve those goals will make all the difference.
This can include:
- Establishing business relationships with potential customers and partners
- Growing your brand awareness in the community (or industry)
- Building relationships that can open up opportunities for collaboration or referrals
- Asking for introductions and recommendations from trusted contacts (who may also be potential customers or partners).
Now that you have a list of goals for the year, it’s time to prioritize them.
How do you do that?
It’s simple if you follow these steps:
Step 1. Make a list of goals you want to achieve.
Step 2. Put two stars next to the most important goal on your list and one star for the less important ones.
Then move on to the next most important one, and so on, until all of your goals have at least one star next to them.
For this process to be effective, you should take some time away from your computer before coming back and doing this step.
Step 3. Once you’ve done that, look at your list again and think about how much time each goal will require over the next 12 months (or however long).
Step 4. Put another star next to each goal that will require more than 5 hours of work per week over the next 12 months.
Once you’ve done this, you’ll have a list of your priority goals and the ones that you should mostly focus on in the future.
2. Review Your Current List of Connections
If you’re like most people, there’s a good chance that you have a list of contacts that you use to meet and interact with people.
Maybe it’s an email provider or an Excel spreadsheet, but if you’re not using something to track conversations with each person and your next steps, it can be hard to keep things organized.
To set effective networking goals, take some time to review your current contact list and determine which contacts are most likely to help you achieve these goals.
You may find that some of your contacts are more helpful than others, so focus on those individuals first.
For example, LeadDelta’s Dashboard provides you with an analysis of your current network that can help you better overview your current network and align your goals with it.
You can see information such as where your connections are from, what industry they work in and job titles, or the number of tags and notes you created for them.
And knowing where the highest percentage of your connections are from will give you a better understanding of the best time to post and get the most views.
On the other hand, you can access their information easily and contact them straight away.
Just hit “Connections”, and find the ones you wanna have a conversation with, and you’re ready to go.
3. List the Connections You Want To Make
Successful networking doesn’t just happen. It’s a process that requires planning, strategy, and execution.
If you’re going to put in the effort required to make meaningful connections, it’s important to know exactly what those connections are supposed to get you in the long run.
And one of the most important things to do when you’re setting goals for yourself is to plan your network first.
This means that you have to figure out who you want to reach out to and what kind of relationships you want to build.
Ask yourself what you want to learn about them and how you can best connect with them.
It’s okay if some of these people are from your network or even if they’re just people who are good friends with the people in your network.
This will help you narrow down exactly the networking activities you need to focus on.
Think about what you want to accomplish this year and list those things.
Then, write down one thing you will do each month to accomplish those goals.
Have some fun with it.
You can make a game out of it and challenge yourself to beat your previous month’s score — or just make sure that you’re not working too hard but still getting results.
4. Make an Actionable Plan
Many people think networking is just about meeting new people.
But it’s not.
It’s about being strategic about how you spend your time and effort.
When you set a goal for yourself, it’s important to set a realistic timeline.
If you want to meet 1000s of new people in one month, that’s unrealistic.
Instead, set goals such as:
- Meet 3-5 new people per week
- Talk to at least one person each day at work or school
- Schedule at least two networking events a month
What you can do is set a goal for each quarter.
Next, create a schedule that includes both short-term and long-term goals.
You should also work on building up your LinkedIn contacts or sending one personalized email every week.
Whatever works best for your schedule and personality type will be better than not having something planned at all.
Also, ensure you know how much time you can commit to networking.
If you’re in a full-time job, your schedule is likely packed with meetings and appointments.
Setting aside time specifically for networking activities is important so they don’t get pushed aside by other things.
Finally, think about what results you hope to achieve from these meetings:
- Are you looking for new clients?
- Do you want referrals?
- Are there specific types of people who could help out your business?
5. Strategize Your Approach in Advance
1. Ask Your Network for Help
Find out what other people are doing and emulate them.
If someone else has a great idea that’s working for them, ask them about it or try following along with their routines until they become your second nature (or even part of your daily routine).
2. Be the One That Helps Others
You’ve probably heard the phrase, “Networking is not a zero-sum game.”
That means that when you add to your network of contacts, it doesn’t always mean someone else loses.
That said, there are times when a new connection can benefit people who already have relationships with you.
For example, if one of your existing contacts has a connection to someone new on LinkedIn, they may be able to introduce you to that person.
If that introduction leads to a mutually beneficial relationship for all three parties involved, then everyone wins.
6. Track Your Progress
Once you have all the tools and actions needed, ensure they’re working for you on an ongoing basis by using them consistently over time.
You may find that one tool works better than another at building rapport or getting leads, so try different ones.
But make sure to set measurable goals so that you can track your progress along the way.
To ensure your goals are measurable, you should also include an end date or time frame for completion.
For example, instead of setting the goal, “I want to be better at networking,” set it to be, “I will have a minimum of 100 business cards by the end of December.“
Or, if one of your goals is to speak at five conferences this year, write down how many times you’ll have to speak each month to reach that goal by December 31st.
Having attainable goals is important because we don’t want to set ourselves up for failure!
If your goal isn’t realistic or within reason based on how much time you have available or what resources you can utilize, it will be difficult for you to achieve them.
On the other hand, LeadDelta can help you organize your conversations, segment your connections, and make reaching and meeting them easier.
We hope these tips will help you set networking goals that you’ll achieve effortlessly.
Keep in mind that networking is a skill that takes time to learn.
It’s a skill that you can’t just read about and expect to be an expert at.
You have to practice it over and over again.
And as you continue practicing, you’ll notice your networking skills will increase.
That’s why setting networking goals will keep you accountable and more willing to work and improve yourself.
And engaging with your LinkedIn audience is no longer a problem with the right LinkedIn tools, so choosing the one that best fits your needs is essential.
With a LeadDelta social capital manager, you’ll be more productive by viewing and organizing your network the way it suits your needs best.
It’s time to stop with overloaded inboxes, feeds, and screaming notifications and rather focus on building relationships.
Download the LeadDelta extension and improve your LinkedIn connections game.