If one of your goals for 2010 involves a new job, obviously building a stronger network will get you closer to this goal than any other strategy. But how can you work something as general as “Improving My Networking “ into any goals or resolutions you have for the start of the new year? I can’t recall the exact source where I first heard this, but I’ve always used an SMA criteria when setting goals. Goals need to be Specific, Measurable and Realistic. I also heard Career Coach Peter Weddles of Career Fitness make the following point-What gets measured gets done. With those points in mind, let’s examine establishing networking goals for 2010.
Contacts. I break this down to a daily level in my 12 daily steps to improve your networking-Make at least 2 contacts per day that are slightly beyond your normal comfort range. You won’t improve your networking until you expand your comfort zone in reaching out to others. Place this atop of your to do lists, day planner’s etc. If daily goals don’t work, set them weekly or monthly. The important thing is to have them as some type of scheduled activity. Monitor the end of each period how well you achieved them. If you fail, don’t give up. Try moving from daily to weekly or some other adjustment.
LinkedIn. Among many other great services, LinkedIn can provide you with a measuring tool for networking goals. Look at the total number of connections you have now with your profile. Then review the profiles of colleagues you know with strong networks. Review their profiles for content, connection numbers as well as groups belonged to. Set a goal for what numbers you would like to have by the end of 2010. Then give yourself incremental numbers to hit each month in order to attain that goal.
Information Interviews. This includes anything from a 15-minute coffee meetings to full appointments at someone’s office. Trust the feedback I have received from countless nervous networkers over my career about this topic. Most are amazed at how easy these are to schedule once you start asking for them. If you’re currently not scheduling any, start slowly with a monthly goal of 2-3. Work toward a meeting each week, then expand from there. If you’re already scheduling them regularly, set a goal for the amount to increase to. Can you make 10-15 per week? That may seem like a reach, but shooting for it will result in more contacts than being content with 3-5 per week.
Networking Events. Handle in a strategy similar to information interviews; if not doing any slowly work in. If you attend some regularly, expand your list.
Depending on their personality, many job seekers find one forum-either the information interview or the networking event- much more beneficial than the other. If that’s the case, do what works best for you, provided you continue expanding your network.