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Is walking into a room full of strangers your worst fear?
You are not alone.
Many individuals love to meet new people, but some would try their best to avoid networking altogether. However, this attitude can be detrimental to your success in life.
Fortunately, there are ways to get more comfortable around people, and setting SMART goals for networking is perhaps the best way to improve your networking skills. Setting SMART goals will help you narrow down the broad field of networking and help you clearly define and accomplish your objectives through networking.
So in this article, we briefly look at what SMART goals are and why they are essential for networking before we get into the details of seven networking SMART goals examples that you can use to improve your networking skills and make the most out of your connections.
Let’s get to it.
What You Will Learn
- What are SMART Goals?
- Why Are SMART Goals For Networking Important?
- 7 Networking SMART Goals Examples
- Final Thoughts on Networking SMART Goals
What are SMART Goals?
The SMART goals framework defines a process for identifying long-term goals and creates a specific method of accomplishing these goals. SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. SMART goal setting makes the goal-setting process less subjective and ensures that we set specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound goals.
Let's take a closer look at each aspect of SMART goal setting.
SMART goals are goals that are not vague. Instead, they are well defined and express precisely what you want to accomplish. A specific goal will pinpoint the main purpose, which makes accomplishing the goals easier.
You can clearly define how you wish to accomplish your goals so you can measure your progress and determine exactly what you have accomplished along the way. Setting measurable goals will keep you on track and help you realign your strategies and implementation techniques to accomplish your goals.
Yes, we may want to reach for the stars but remember that stars are far away from our solar system, so maybe shooting for the moon may be a reasonable goal. As you set your goals, you need to be realistic about what is attainable and make sure you set goals that are possible to reach by your deadline.
Your goal should be relevant to your overall life objective. If you are setting a SMART goal for an organization, it should align with the company’s mission and reflect one or more of its core values.
When do you expect your goal to be completed? SMART goals are limited by a set deadline, which helps you stay focused and keep you motivated to accomplish your goals.
The five elements of SMART goals do not work in isolation. Instead, they work together so you can set clear, track-able goals while understanding your constraints and limitations.
Why Are SMART Goals For Networking Important?
Expanding your network is a huge task, and when it comes to expanding your network, setting goals like “I want to expand my network” or “I want to improve my networking skills” are too vague to address and work on.
Every person who is looking forward to improving networking skills knows that it requires some hard work. However, by setting SMART goals, you can decide on your direction and where you want to head in considering the following.
Each of these goals will help you improve your networking skills and expand your network. Working on these more specific tasks is a lot easier than working on a vague goal like “I want to expand my network.”
Expanding your network or improving your networking skill is a time-taking process that also requires a lot of practice, so if your goals are not directed in the right order, you will not make much progress towards your target and will eventually exhaust yourself and are more likely to give up. It is, therefore, critical to be specifically directed towards the target you want to accomplish.
Breaking Down “I Want to Expand My Network”
Expanding your network is a vast field. So, if someone sets up a goal like “I want to expand my network,” the first response is usually that the goal is too vague to accomplish. What do you mean by expanding your network? Then there are several questions that you need to ask.
Is it Specific?
When setting a SMART goal, it is critical to be specific. If you look at this statement, “I want to expand my network, there is nothing in this statement that talks about which area of improving your network are you talking about. Is it about improving your communication skills to engage more people, or is it about working on your confidence to interact with more people in a more meaningful manner. Moreover, the statement doesn't highlight the results you want to accomplish or why this goal is important to you.
Is it Measurable?
Is there a way you can measure the expansion in your network? Surely you can measure it in terms of new people you interact with within certain gatherings but simply saying that I want to expand my network is a goal where you cannot measure your progress towards it.
Is it Attainable?
Since the goal is not clearly defined, and there is no specific outcome that you wish to accomplish, you cannot decide whether the goal is attainable.
To make the goal more attainable, you will have to make it more specific and then decide on whether the goal is attainable or not.
Is it Relevant?
What do you want to accomplish when you expand your network? The statement lacks enthusiasm, and there is a lack of explanation of why the goal is significant for you. Therefore, the goal statement doesn't show any relevance to the goal for you.
Is it Time-Bound?
There is no defined timeline as you for when you wish to accomplish this goal. While the statement may seem over-ambitious, the missing timeline will only render it good to hear, but that is just about it.
7 Networking SMART Goals Examples
1. Getting to Know Others
I want to expand my network, which means interacting with new people. I will interact with at least five new people at work-related casual gatherings and get to know them. I will continue to do so for all gatherings for the next six months.
Specific: The goal is specific because it critically states the number of new people you want to interact with.
Measurable: The goal measures the number of people, which is five.
Attainable: You can consciously put in the effort to accomplish this goal because people before you have done so.
Relevant: Since you want to expand your network, you can only do so by getting to know others.
Time-Bound: A timeline of six months shows that you will practice the goal during all casual gatherings, after which it is likely to become a habit to get to know other people.
2. Making Stronger Eye Contact
I want to improve my eye contact by interacting with strangers and people I know. I will do so by making conscious eye contact with every new person I interact with at a casual business gathering for the next six months. The eye contact can range from at least 10 seconds to one minute, which will break for a few seconds and then continue as the conversation goes on.
Specific: Improving eye contact with strangers as well as people you know who are speaking to you,
Measurable: The goal measures the duration of eye contact, which ranges from ten-second to one-minute intervals.
Attainable: When you consciously put in the effort, the goal is attainable.
Relevant: Since you want to expand your network, making stronger eye contact makes a crucial element in developing strong and lasting relationships,
Time-Bound: You will know how well the goal is making progress when you set a deadline.
3. Improving Confidence
I want to improve my confidence when interacting with others to make a good impression. I will practice confident conversations in front of a mirror every time before a casual business meet-up for the next few months. During these conversations with myself, I will reduce the use of filler words (like umms and uhs) to less than five and aim for less than five flaws in all conversations with myself.
Specific: The goal is specific to improve confidence and reduce flaws and the use of filler words in conversations.
Measurable: You can measure the success of your goal by counting your use of filler words and flaws and know when you have accomplished the goal.
Attainable: While practicing conversations with yourself, the goal is attainable. Also, there is enough room for error when you are practicing the conversations.
Relevant: Since you want to interact with people confidently, the goal is relevant to improving your confidence so you can expand your network.
Time-Bound: Since there is a set deadline for the goal, with enough practice, it’s likely to turn into a habit that will allow you to expand your network.
4. Enhancing Body Language
For the next one month, I will be mindful of my head-to-toe body when interacting with others during conversations that last over one minute to increase my non-verbal communication to expand my network.
Specific: The goal is specific as it aims at enhancing the non-verbal aspect of communication during interaction with others.
Measurable: You can measure the success of this goal by being mindful and reflecting on your body language following the conversations.
Attainable: With practice, the goal is attainable.
Relevant: Since you want to expand your network, you cannot do so without improving your body language, hence a relevant goal.
Time-Bound: As you practice mindfulness during conversations, it’ll likely turn into a habit that will allow you to expand your network.
5. Making Conversations More Engaging
I will make more engaging conversations by making stronger eye contact (for at least 10 seconds) and using few filler words (less than five) for every conversation I initiate a casual business meet-ups for the next six months.
Specific: The goal is specific to improving audience engagement during conversations.
Measurable: You can measure the success of your goal by counting the filler words as well as maintaining eye contact.
Attainable: The goal is attainable as managing the use of filler words and maintaining eye contact is a practical goal.
Relevant: Part of expanding your network is about making more confident and engaging conversations with people you meet.
Time-Bound: The goal is time-bound, which requires practice for six months.
6. Become a Better Listener
I will acknowledge what the speaker is saying by rephrasing what they say in smaller and more meaningful statements to at least three speakers I interact with for the next ten casual business meetings and gatherings.
Specific: It is critical to give feedback to the speaker, so they know you are a good listener.
Measurable: The goal is to provide verbal feedback to at least three speakers for the next ten meetings,
Attainable: Starting the response with smaller statements is attainable.
Relevant: The goal is relevant to expanding your network as you are an active and engaged listener.
Time-Bound: The goal will continue for the next ten meet-ups, following which it will likely become a habit.
7. Being Non-Judgmental About People I Meet
I want to be an open-minded listener who will not judge others even when there is a disagreement with the speaker's viewpoint. In that case, I will politely disagree and not get involved in an aggressive disagreement. I will continue to practice for the next three months so I can be a more non-judgmental listener.
Specific: I want to be non-judgmental about what the speaker is saying.
Measurable: Ican specify the difference between the types of disagreements.
Attainable: If you willingly put in effort for this goal, the goal is attainable/
Relevant: Being a non-judgmental and open-minded listener is critical when looking forward to expanding your network.
Time-Bound: I set a deadline of three months that will allow you to break old habits.
Final Thoughts on Networking SMART Goals
Networking is a vast field. Therefore, it is critical to narrow down your areas of improvement so you can improve your networking skills and eventually have an expansive network.
Setting networking SMART goals can help you systematically address each area of enhancing your networking skills and improving your network.
Now, if you want to take your networking skill to the next level, then be sure to check out these nine strategies for improving your conversation with the people you’re meeting. You can also use one of these social skills worksheets to help you develop better.
Finally, if you want to take your goal-setting efforts to the next level, check out this FREE printable worksheet and a step-by-step process that will help you set effective SMART goals.