Networking is a business process. Just like keeping your books straight, opening your storefront on time, or hiring employees, networking needs to have a process to get done and goals to improve. How you set those goals is important. Let’s discuss how to set SMART networking goals.
First a reminder of what SMART means.
Specific What will be accomplished?
Measurable What data will measure the goal?
Achievable Is the goal doable?
Relevant Does the goal align with your business plan?
Time-Bound What is the timeframe for getting this done?
Starting with the specifics. There are many ways of saying this, but it will all come down to one truth. The goal of business networking is to “Put Dollars In Your Pocket”TM. Let’s think of the other ways to say this – Get more clients for your business; Build a referral network to expand your resources; Look for job prospects or keep opportunities open; Increase your general skills, knowledge and abilities. These are all great, but are they Specific enough to be SMART? We will come back to this later.
Now onto Measurability. Are you going to measure the # of referrals you get, the # that lead to new business, the amount of revenue you get, the amount of profits you make? If you want to be in business 10 years from now, all good business owners will tell you, you need to be able to understand how you generate profit. Keep an eye on this when we come back to writing the SMART goal at the end.
This next step is the most difficult to set. Achievability. Wow. We all want to grow our business beyond our wildest success dreams, but if our goal is to get a million dollars in new business during the first six months of networking, then you aren’t likely to be with the group for long. Look back into your company and compare how you have grown over a year or two. That is the minimal amount of time you need to give your networking group the opportunity to build your business. Networking is not a hit and run success model. It is about building relationships of trust that grow through a lifetime of business.
Relevance is also key. This is one goal of growing your business, but it needs to align wit your hiring goals, training goals and timeframe goals for your overall company.
Time-bound. You need to have short term and long-term SMART goals. Don’t think the first 3 months of being in your business networking group will define the long run, but there has to be something accomplished in both terms.
My SMART networking goal is to get 10 new customers in the renewable energy division that provide my company with $50,000 in net profits over the next two years and help put the division on a growth path to make us the #2 provider in the state.