Networking is critical to professional success, yet many people struggle to make the most of their networking experiences. Fortunately, setting SMART goals can help individuals enhance their networking skills.
These goals unlock opportunities for professional growth while ensuring you remain focused on the steps necessary to reach your desired outcome. This article will provide examples of SMART goals for effective networking.
What is a SMART Goal?
The SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-based) framework encourages you to develop practical networking goals.
In case you aren’t familiar, SMART goals are:
The more detailed your networking goals are, the better your chances of reaching them. Ask yourself: What do I hope to get out of this experience?
Are there certain connections that I need to make or build? Recognizing what outcome you expect from each interaction can ensure everyone involved walks away feeling satisfied.
An effective networking strategy is the first step toward advancing your career. But it’s crucial to have a way to measure your networking goals as you progress.
Measuring your goals will allow you to understand which areas work well and which require more attention. This will enable you to ascertain if you’re on track and ensure you don’t fall behind with your plans.
When developing goals, make sure you are realistic. Having unrealistic expectations leads to disappointment and a lack of progress.
That said, networking requires time, effort, and commitment to yield results. Think carefully about what realistic steps you need to take each day to ensure your networking dreams become a reality.
Make sure your goals are explicitly tailored toward what you aspire to accomplish. When your goals directly relate to what matters to you most, it gives them more meaning and significance. This will increase the chances of motivating you further down the line when difficulty arises.
Having a target end date will keep you hyper-focused on completing the task at hand. Otherwise, you risk losing any chances of success. Tasks are left open-ended, allowing procrastination to take over. You may lose ambition, meaning you’ll never fulfill your dreams.
12 SMART Goals Examples for Effective Networking
Below you’ll discover 12 SMART goals examples to improve your networking skills:
1. Join Professional Organizations
SMART Goal: I want to join two professional organizations in the next four months. By focusing on quality over quantity, I can create meaningful connections with professionals in my field. This will enable me to stay up-to-date on industry trends and expand my professional network.
- Specific: Joining two professional organizations within the next four months is a precise goal.
- Measurable: You can count how many organizations you joined and assess the number of connections made from each one.
- Attainable: Joining two professional organizations in four months is absolutely doable.
- Relevant: This is a great way to network with industry professionals and stay up-to-date on trends.
- Time-based: You’ll complete this statement after four months.
2. Attend Networking Events
SMART Goal: My goal is to attend at least three local networking events in the 6 months ahead. I want to use these opportunities to make valuable connections with other professionals, learn about their businesses and gain insight into potential opportunities for collaboration.
- Specific: The goal states the objective and a timeline for completion.
- Measurable: You can measure success by tracking the number of events attended.
- Attainable: Attending three networking events over 6 months is a realistic goal.
- Relevant: This will help you gain valuable connections and potentially open up new opportunities.
- Time-based: There is a 6-month end date for reaching this particular goal.
3. Be More Confident
SMART Goal: I’ll aim to become more confident in networking opportunities by the end of one month. I’ll practice speaking in front of a mirror, attend networking events, and introduce myself to new people.
- Specific: The person will practice speaking in front of a mirror, attending networking events, and introducing themselves to new people.
- Measurable: You will follow the three action items to reach success.
- Attainable: This SMART goal is achievable if the person puts in the time to practice, attend events, and introduce themselves.
- Relevant: Increasing one’s confidence in networking opportunities is key to success.
- Time-based: Goal attainment is expected by the end of one month.
4. Build an Online Presence
SMART Goal: I will create a professional profile on at least three social networks and add 25 industry-relevant contacts within two months. I want to ensure I’m visible to those seeking the skills and knowledge I offer.
- Specific: This goal is about establishing a brand presence on social media.
- Measurable: This is assessed by creating three social media profiles and adding 25 contacts.
- Attainable: Creating a profile can be completed as long as you’re proactive and consistent with your networking attempts.
- Relevant: Social media networking is an effective method for finding new leads and opportunities.
- Time-based: You have two entire months to accomplish this goal.
5. Participate in Conferences
SMART Goal: I will attend two conferences related to my field of expertise by the end of the year. I want to learn new skills, network with industry professionals, and create relationships that could open up opportunities for me in the future.
- Specific: This goal is explicit because the person targets conferences in their expertise.
- Measurable: The number of conferences you attend should be tracked.
- Attainable: This goal is achievable if you take the time to research and participate in conferences related to your interest.
- Relevant: Participating in conferences is an excellent way to build relationships and gain insight into the industry.
- Time-based: Goal attainment should happen by the end of the year.
6. Join LinkedIn Groups
SMART Goal: I will join two professional LinkedIn groups within the next quarter to expand my network of contacts and increase my online visibility. I want to ensure my name is out there and I can connect with industry professionals.
- Specific: The statement outlines the person’s objective and the deadline.
- Measurable: Make sure you join at least two LinkedIn groups in the allocated time frame.
- Attainable: Joining two LinkedIn groups within three months is achievable, as you only need to research to find the right ones.
- Relevant: Networking is essential, and LinkedIn groups are the perfect platform to do so.
- Time-based: The person has three months to accomplish this goal.
7. Connect with Alumni Associations
SMART Goal: I will join two alumni associations related to my field of work and attend their events over the 5 months ahead. By attending these events, I’ll have the opportunity to meet new contacts and strengthen existing relationships in my professional network.
- Specific: You have precise actions available—join two alumni associations and attend their events.
- Measurable: Set a goal to attend at least two events over the course of 5 months.
- Attainable: This is a reasonable goal, depending on the availability of events.
- Relevant: This goal relates to your primary objective of strengthening your professional network connections.
- Time-based: You should anticipate goal completion within 5 months.
8. Develop Listening Skills
SMART Goal: I want to improve my ability to listen actively and attentively. Within the next three months, I plan to attend a listening skills seminar to help me make the most of conversations and relationships with colleagues.
- Specific: The statement is well-defined. The individual wants to improve their ability to listen actively and attentively.
- Measurable: Ensure you attend a listening skills seminar to actively gauge progress.
- Relevant: The goal relates to the individual’s desire to maximize conversations and relationships with colleagues.
- Time-based: Three months is required to meet this certain goal.
9. Find Mentorships
SMART Goal: I want to find two mentorships by the end of one year to help develop my professional skills and gain crucial advice from experienced professionals. I’ll reach out to people in my current network and seek new connections to help me achieve my goals.
- Specific: The goal is explicit because it clearly states the person wishes to find two mentorships.
- Measurable: You can determine whether the person has found two mentorships after one year.
- Attainable: Finding two mentors is definitely achievable with proper networking.
- Relevant: Finding mentorships is applicable to professional development.
- Time-based: The SMART goal should be achieved within one year.
10. Leave Positive Impression
SMART Goal: For 10 months, I will leave a positive impression on the people I network with. I’ll take an interest in their work, ask them thoughtful questions, and be proactive in providing value to the conversation. I will keep track of meetings and take notes about each conversation for future reference.
- Specific: This goal outlines what you need to do (take an interest in their work, ask them thoughtful questions, and be proactive in providing value).
- Measurable: You can determine the meetings you’ve attended and the notes you’ve taken.
- Attainable: Asking thoughtful questions and being proactive in providing value is within your capabilities.
- Relevant: These activities will help you to leave a positive impression on the people you network with.
- Time-based: Goal achievement is expected after 10 whole months.
11. Improve Body Language
SMART Goal: To better connect with people in my network and reflect professionalism, I will practice speaking with better body language by the end of three months. I’ll attend a workshop or read articles to learn more about this skill and practice it in networking conversations.
- Specific: This SMART goal details the objective and how it will be reached.
- Measurable: By attending a workshop or reading articles, you can evaluate your progress and measure improvements in networking conversations.
- Attainable: This is feasible because there are resources to learn more about body language, which can be practiced and improved upon.
- Relevant: Good body language is essential in networking conversations—it reflects professionalism and helps people connect better.
- Time-based: There is a three-month timeline for meeting this goal.
12. Practice Patience
SMART Goal: I’ll take the time to form effective relationships with my contacts by being patient and engaging instead of rushing through conversations. I hope to develop trust and rapport built on mutual respect, so I’ll commit to listening to and understanding their needs. I will have 10 meaningful conversations with potential contacts after four months.
- Specific: This is specific because you plan to form connections with potential contacts.
- Measurable: Count the number of meaningful conversations with current contacts.
- Attainable: Nurturing relationships takes time, but it is a goal that can be realistically achieved.
- Relevant: Networking is about forming relationships, and this goal will help you do just that.
- Time-based: Four months is needed to have meaningful conversations with contacts.
SMART goals are a powerful resource for effective networking. Freeing up the time to establish clear and achievable objectives increases the likelihood of success and fosters long-term motivation.
Using the SMART technique and mapping your action plan will help you build meaningful relationships with potential contacts. You’ll be able to take control of your networking process and maximize the results of your efforts.
This post may feature products and services that we think you’ll find useful. Please read our disclosure for more information.