SMART goals for networking are what you need or want to achieve through your networking efforts. Goals give you a long-term vision and provide motivation. Goal setting helps you organize your time and your resources effectively. The most common networking goals revolve around a chance to:
- Help you with your job search efforts in the future.
- Build your support community and be a part of the developer community.
- Build your profile and grow an online presence.
- Brand yourself as knowledgeable in your field.
Setting better SMART networking goals:
Goals provide how you track and evaluate whether you achieved the desired outcomes. SMART goals are set within a framework of creating goals that are:
- Specific: Is the goal linked to one activity or one thought?
- Measurable: Can you plot your progress on a graph? Can you say how much you’ve improved from the previous day or week?
- Actionable: What task or action will you be doing?
- Relevant: What is the reason, purpose, or benefit of accomplishing the goal? What is the result(not activities leading up to the result) of the goal?
- Timely: Did you include a set time period in which you want to achieve your goal? Days? Weeks? Months?
Setting networking goals can help you get the most out of your networking activities. You will be spending a reasonable amount of time building relationships with your network, so it would make sense to optimize it. Read more about effective time management.
Building your network with goals :
Building a valuable network takes time and effort. There are no shortcuts and no quick fixes. This means that you need a plan: a path you can follow to ensure that you maintain and add to your network over the long term. You can have a big-picture goal for your networking efforts before breaking that down into smaller SMART goals. This helps you have a long-term or mid-term vision for your networking activities to help you set smaller goals that align with your vision. Some examples of big-picture networking goals you can set include:
Building a network that contains a broad range of skills, knowledge, and experience :
When you have this big goal, it means that over time, you want to connect with not just other developers, but recruiters, entrepreneurs/business owners, engineering managers or product managers, and other professionals with different skills.
You can facilitate this goal by making a list of the qualities you want your network members to have and ensuring that anyone you consider for inclusion must possess at least one of these qualities. These qualities could include any of the following;
- They should have skills and/or experience in a particular field. You want a spread of skills.
- They should have a common interest with you.
- They should share other commonalities with you, such as living in the same country or city or town.
Your prospective connections don’t have to comply with all of the requirements, but they should comply with at least one.
Set a goal to review your network monthly and make it a part of your routine. You can do this by going through the list of your connections, making notes of any new achievements they’ve made, and taking stock of which connections you’d like to build a stronger connection with. Remember not to focus all your attention on acquiring new connections. Use some of your time to look at the existing members of your network to see what they are up to on social media and their websites to find ways to add value to their businesses and lives.
Becoming a great connection for people in your network :
It’s good to make connections, but it’s what happens afterward that either results in a valuable relationship being fostered or lost.
One way to approach this is to consider what type of relationship you want to have with a connection and how you want to offer and receive value from them. For each connection chosen, create a path from where you are to where you want the relationship.
For example, you may want to move a particular relationship from being a contact to an ally (a close connection) by the end of the current year (assuming it’s near the beginning of that year). To explain further, an ally would be someone who initiates contact with you of their own accord on a fairly regular basis (once every few weeks or so), and so that would be the test for the success or failure of the goal.
Now you understand what big-picture networking goals are. Here is a guideline to help you set your SMART networking goals.
To set your networking goals:
- Identify the person or the type of industry you need to make contact with.
- Identify whether you need to use your personal or professional networks.
- Identify exactly what you want from them or what you want to give them.
- List suitable questions or networking strategies to achieve your goal(s).
SMART networking goals are different for everyone. There are many paths to building a network and being a great connection. Volunteering at tech events and contributing to tech forums are examples of achievable goals that can help you build your network when done intentionally.
Example of a SMART networking goal:
- S: I will increase my online presence through networking.
- M: I will know I have achieved success when I gain 5000 followers on Twitter and an average of five daily visits to my portfolio.
- A: I will share the daily progress of the development of my TO-DOist clone app. I will also respond to insightful tweets with my thoughts and opinions.
- R: I will accomplish this goal because I am passionate about sharing web development ideas, and networking will improve my job search progress in the future.
- T: I will achieve this goal in nine months.