After a conference or corporate training event, I try to follow up with each participant. Have they made progress toward their goals? Are they using what they learned? What questions do they have? How can I help?
This week, someone sent me the following response. Their question is one that other people may also wonder about:
After attending your Network Beyond Bias workshop, I have actually been successful at expanding my network and having conversations with people who I haven’t been around as much in the past. I guess the only question I have is: How do you balance networking with the demands of the day-to-day? I feel like there is always more that I would like to do but struggle to find the time to do that. I also think that sometimes I am a little too reactive and not as proactive with the networking events. Do you have any suggestions for how to balance these things?
I think the answer is different for each person, depending on their professional goals, personal strengths, and current situation. For example, someone who is planning to look for a new job in the next 12-18 months should expand their network as much — and as soon — as possible. Someone for whom retirement is imminent should focus on finding mentors who have recently made that transition, as well as a protege network if they want to stay connected to their industry. For mid-career professionals who are not planning a job change, strive to balance both breadth and depth.
Set Networking Goals
Networking goals are important to our professional development. Below are some examples.
- Each day: Log into LinkedIn to see what folks are up to. In real-world environments, be friendly and open, and look for opportunities to connect, especially with people who differ from you.
- Each week: Connect with someone new on LinkedIn every week.
- Each month: Attend one networking event per month, on average. These can be virtual or in-person, and can be new groups or familiar ones. Mix it up!
- Each month / Each quarter: Re-connect with the people in your CHAMP Network at least once per month. If you have a robust CHAMP network, be sure you have at least a quarterly touch point (email, social media exchange, coffee, etc.) with each one.
- NEVER get complacent! The best time to build your network is before you need it.
One of the best ways to build a networking habit is to take notes using the Network Like a CHAMP Networking Activity Journal. This is the journal I use to record all my conversations when I meet new people or re-connect with colleagues. Not only do I have a record of what we discussed, I can also assess my CHAMP Network in real time. My initial goal was to fill four journals each year (one per quarter). Now, I fill one about every two months. In 2020, I hope to go through one per month!
What do you think, Dear Readers? Do you set periodic networking goals, or do you let your network grow more organically?
I’d love to hear your thoughts!