Column: To avoid frustration, set networking goals that you have control over
Photo by Kriss Szkurlatowski
I'm a strong proponent of setting goals in your networking practice. Starting with simple goals for attending events, to larger ones about the levels you will reach on your networking scorecard, goals help us achieve the levels of networking activity that we need to accomplish what we desire in life.
There's one thing I am careful about with regard to these useful tools: I try to make sure that any goals I set are almost completely dependent on my actions, not the actions of others. Any time we try to break that guideline, we are setting ourselves up for a lot of frustration.
For example, setting the goal to receive four referrals each week is probably not the best way to go. How can you control whether someone has a referral for you? Maybe a better option would be a goal to ask for a referral once or twice a week.
A limiting goal might be to have five people call you for coffee over the next month. A better one would be for you to call five people to arrange a coffee.
Setting a goal to sign $100,000 in contracts might not lead you to happiness and contentment. Setting the goal to record your networking scorecard each night to make sure you are maintaining the networking levels that should lead to those contracts would probably be a more achievable one.
In general, to avoid frustration and the resulting abandonment of goal-setting, stay away from setting goals that depend on someone else's behavior. Really, the only one you can take responsibility for is yourself. Any improvements in your networking practice, therefore, have to come from setting the bar on your behavior.