Far too often professionals never really think about setting goals for the networking events, or meetings they are attending. Now we all know that we need to set goals, but knowing we need to do something and actually doing it are two very different things.
However, I don’t want to discuss the importance of setting goals in this post, but I want to discuss the right way to start thinking about your goals so you have a better chance of actually achieving them.
When I discuss goals with professionals at networking events I typically get very broad, bland answers. I will ask someone what their goal was for this event and they will say “I never really thought of that”, or “I want to meet a certain number of people”, or the best “I didn’t set a goal for tonight, tonight is about meeting new people.” The truth is each one of these people will achieve their goals for that evening. The first will have nothing but meaningless conversations with people they already know. The second will meet a certain number of people but get nothing from it if they are the wrong people. The third will be a combination of the first two.
We all want to accomplish something from our networking. If we didn’t then we are basically stating we love wasting our time. While meeting new people is important that isn’t the real result we are looking for. We each want to obtain some true result from the effort, and time, we invest in networking our business. It isn’t a matter of meeting new people for the sake of meeting new people; it is what results we will see from meeting these new people.
So, with that here is one tip to help you start planning for more success when networking. Before you attend your next meeting, or event, invest a few minutes thinking about what you want to accomplish, and begin with the END in mind. That means think about the tangible results you want to accomplish. What referrals are you looking for? What introductions in town do you need? What professions do you need to network with in order to build a referral relationship?
Some of these results will not happen at the event. Referrals come with time. They are the result of investing in building business relationships. This is the same with referral relationships. However the first step to these results is that networking meeting.
When we begin with the end in mind then we can become more effective when at the event. It isn’t about “meeting new people” it is about meeting new people who will help you accomplish your true goal. It is about meeting the right new people. Now you can set a plan for exactly who you want to meet, and why. You can create a strategy for the conversation you will have with this person. You will now be investing your time wisely as you begin to work towards achieving actual results. While it is easy for us to accomplish a simple goal, like meeting a certain number of people, we still end up frustrated by the lack of new referrals coming into our business.
So, begin with the end in mind. Think about what you really want to accomplish. Then make sure you are using the networking events in the right way to accomplish those goals. I also encourage you to look at the networking organizations you belong to and ask yourself if they are helping you achieve the goals you have set.