Networking is an essential part of our lives, but networking without a clear direction will lead you nowhere.
How will you know who you should connect with without knowing what you want out of your networking efforts?
Is it a new job, investors, employees, mentors? How many? Why do you need these people?
This is why setting networking goals is so important for your success.
In this guide, you will learn how to set your own goals with a step-by-step process.
Let’s get started.
What Are Networking Goals?
Networking goals are specific objectives an individual sets for themselves to strategically expand and nurture their professional and personal connections.
You can imagine them as a destination point you aim to achieve through networking efforts.
Like any goal, networking goals can be short-term, like getting a job referral out of your network in the next 3 months.
Or long-term, like connecting with and nurturing relationships with 5 angel investors before my funding round next year.
But goals without purpose are just wishes, you need to know why you are setting them.
Why Should You Set Networking Goals
We already mentioned that networking goals give you direction, but there’s much more to setting proper goals.
Here’s what having concrete networking goals will help you with:
- Build purposeful relationships with people who can actually help you.
- Prioritize your time and energy on important tasks.
- Give you a sense of direction and purpose in your career.
- Keep you focused on what matters most to you at the moment.
- Boost in motivation when you accomplish a small task.
- Better and long-term relationship building.
- Increase in your productivity with a clear path of progression.
In short, setting networking goals takes your casual networking and transforms it into a purpose-driven strategy for personal growth.
But how do you set goals for yourself?
7 Steps To Set Purposeful Networking Goals
Let’s get through some effective steps to set networking goals and achieve them more easily.
1. Self-Reflect on Your Personal Goals
Before even diving into setting goals, take a step back and reflect on your personal and professional ambitions.
Consider why you even want to meet new people.
List out your current career goals, your skills, and what you want to learn.
What are your personal life goals and how does networking fit into them?
Once you understand your broad goals and how networking can help you achieve them, you will know what you should spend effort on.
2. Define Your Networking Priorities
After understanding what you want to achieve and how networking can help you achieve your broader goals, move your focus.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What do I want from my network?
- Do I want a new job, new skills, investors…?
- What do I need to focus on to get to where I want to be?
- What kind of relationships do I want – casual, professional, mentors?
- How much time and energy am I willing to put into networking?
- What do I want to achieve in the short and long term?
These are just some questions that will help you shape what you really want out of networking.
Note: It’s best to write answers on a piece of paper and give the goal forming some time. Sleep on it for a few days if you need to.
Now that you have a list of goals for the year, it’s time to prioritize them.
- Write each goal on a piece of paper.
- Put one, two, or three stars beside each goal depending on how important they are to you.
- Look at your list again and think about how much of an impact they will have on your overall goals.
- Again rate the goals from one to three depending on their impact.
Once you’re done, you’ll have a list of your priority goals and the ones that you should focus on first (the ones with the most stars).
Bonus: You can also rate these goals based on the time you need to put into them.
3. Review Your Current Network
If you’re like most people, there’s a good chance that you already have connections in your network.
Be that a sheet, constant book, email list, or LinkedIn, all of us know people.
Before proceeding to network with new people, take some time to review your current list of contacts.
You may find that some of your contacts are more helpful than others, so focus on those individuals.
You can use LeadDelta’s Dashboard to analyze your current LinkedIn network and proceed with determining what you will do with it.
Analyze information like where your connections are from, what industry they work in, and their job titles to get a better grasp of your current network.
Once you know your network better you can start off by bulk disconnecting connections that don’t align with your goals.
This will leave you with only relevant people in your network and help you identify the gaps in your connections.
You will be using your networking skills to fill in these gaps and align them with your goals.
4. Identify Target Connections
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.
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.
Depending on your goals imagine 3-5 personas you want in your network.
Which industry are they from? Are they creators? What are their job titles? Personalities?
Write them down and always keep them in mind.
If you get a connection request, always refer to these personas and you will know if you should accept the request or not.
It’s very beneficial to create a list of people you want to connect with, especially if they are experts in their field.
You can use the LeadDelta Sidebar to import 2nd and 3rd-degree connections into your LeadDelta and keep track of them without being connected.
This is great because you might not be ready to connect with some of these people as it’s not the right time, but you want to keep tabs on them.
5. Set Specific Measurable Goals
Having a set goal is great but without a concrete measurement, you won’t know if you are on the path to achieving it.
Each one of your networking goals needs to be a SMART goal that you can later track.
Here’s an example:
- Specific – I will connect with 10 industry leaders in my niche by the end of the month.
- Measurable – I can measure how many people I connect with daily and determine how many of them are industry leaders.
- Achievable – I can use many tools and techniques to reach industry leaders.
- Relevant – Expanding my network with industry leaders will help me get further in my career.
- Time-Bound – I have one month to achieve this goal.
Having specific measurable goals will help you see where you’re lacking and what needs to be changed to achieve the goal.
After defining your SMART goals, you will need to break them down into smaller more achievable steps.
6. Strategize Your Approach
Now that you have goals to work towards it’s time to break them up and create a strategy on how you will achieve them.
Focus on creating annual, quarterly, monthly, and weekly benchmarks that lead to the overall goal.
After this, you can proceed to create daily habits/weekly habits that will help you achieve them.
You also need to ask yourself how will you achieve your goals.
If you want in-person relationships, focus on attending networking events.
If you want more LinkedIn professionals in your network, focus on connecting with people on LinkedIn.
Here are some strategies to help you achieve your goal:
- Offer value and help without asking for anything in return.
- Ask your network and colleagues for help and introductions.
- Engage your online connections daily.
- Take the conversation offline and meet people in real life.
- Learn one new networking trick each day/week and use it.
- Become a part of niche communities that will help your goals.
- Leverage your network’s data in establishing new relationships.
There’s no set strategy that will take you to your goal, it’s on you to try different things and see what works.
To do so, you will need to track each step and optimize.
7. Act and Track
Now that everything is set, you have all the right tools and know what you need to do, it’s time to act.
Start off small, task by task, and turn those little tasks into habits.
Every day or week, sit down and reflect on how the day/week went and which tasks you accomplished.
When you do this, focus on what can be done better and you will start seeing better and better results.
There’s no magic formula to this part and it can take time until you accomplish your networking goal.
You just have to keep going and focus on what’s important to you.
Now that you know how to set your networking goals it’s back to you, there’s work to be done.
Keep in mind that networking is a skill that takes time to learn and become an expert at.
This is exactly why setting networking goals will keep you accountable and more willing to improve yourself.
Consider using a tool like LeadDelta to help you better manage and utilize your network for even more success.