Networking is a crucial part of securing new job opportunities. It may seem like a simple process—you just attend a meeting and talk to people, right? It actually involves more than that. Having a structured plan when you set out for any networking opportunity puts you ahead of the game. And standing out (in a good way) is what you want to do when networking. Setting goals helps you save hours of guesswork how to proceed at your next event. Here’s how to set some networking goals for the new year.
Make them measurable. One of the best ways to reach your networking goals is setting out to accomplish ones that are measurable and achievable. When you set goals for yourself, think of what you can accomplish during a networking event, such as how many people you will talk to and how many business cards you’ll hand out. Write these goals down and go over them before your meeting, whether it’s in person or virtual. Make sure you set realistic goals as well so you don’t get discouraged when you can’t reach them.
Learn better communication skills. Let’s face it, networking really is about communication. One thing you can work on to put your best foot forward is your listening skills. Set a goal for yourself that you’ll work on asking better questions and actively listen to the answers. When you do this, you forge a connection between you and the other person, and building this real connection leads to more than merely socializing or promoting your products.
Prepare for awkward silences. When you have conversations with total strangers, it’s likely you’ll encounter points at which you don’t know what to say next. If you prepare a few topics to talk about during these loss for words, it helps move the conversation along. You could talk about something that’s going on in the world or about what you’re selling, but the important thing is to keep the conversation flowing naturally. For example, have a few benefits about your products or skills ready to discuss, or talk about a recent interesting development in your industry.
Another way to evolve your networking skills is just to practice. Join a few groups and attend the meetings they offer to hone your skills. Also, be sure to follow up with everyone you talked to at the meeting. While this also seems simple and like a no-brainer, many people at the event likely won’t have time to follow through properly. You’ll stand out if you go to your next networking event with a plan and stick to it.
Setting Networking Goals