The first step is to consider the question – why are you networking? You’ll need to move beyond the reason that you’ve been told to do it or it came up on your performance appraisal. Try to get a clear notion of the purpose for all this work. This way, you can use it as a means of deciding which events to attend, which to avoid and whom you need to try to get into your network. It will also help you set goals and targets for your networking and, ultimately, it will help you realise your ambitions more quickly.
It is usually difficult to arrive at succinct SMART goals for your networking, although that would be ideal. Instead, you may wish to settle for more general aims — you can get more specific once you’ve started moving.
Example networking purposes…
- To become recognised by all members of the board as a valuable contributor to the business.
- To attract challenging new work assignments.
- To become a well-known figure within the industry.
- To advance your career.
- To speak at external conferences.
- To become even more successful in your job.
If you are finding it difficult to define your purpose, at least settle for the last one in the list above. The only risk with this is that you’ll need to be careful to avoid short-term tactical moves which can create success. So try to focus on the long-term success if you can.