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It’s the start of 2020, so it’s the perfect time to reflect and strategize about what steps to take to strengthen your career. 

It’s a well-known fact that networking is a key component to advancing, especially if you’re in the business of building a book of business. Focusing on enhancing your networking skills and outreach could be the perfect path for you this year.

However, you can’t really gain value from networking without clear, measurable goals.

Anyone can set a vague goal year after year to “improve my network.” But to really make it count, you need to set clear, specific, and actionable goals. You need to guide your networking actions with intention, so you don’t waste time investing time and energy on people who aren’t in line with your objectives. 

So if you’re looking for goals that can have a marked impact on your career, then here are three strategies to help you strengthen your network this year. 

1) Find a Mentor

A mentor can help increase the success of your business. They are a person (or group of people) who have been where you are and found success. They can help you overcome months or years of wasted time with trial-and-error. As business coach Amit Punjabi says, a mentor can help you skip the “I think” phase and advance straight to “I know.”

If you’re looking for a mentor, a helpful suggestion is to look for at least five people who are living the life you want to live. One of those people could be the best person to serve as your mentor, as they will know how to help you achieve that life. 

Ideally, you’ll want to find someone who can help you improve your networking skills, so you should look to someone who has — and knows how to grow — a large professional network. They may be gurus in circles you follow, leaders of networking groups, or just a successful entrepreneur in your book club. No matter how well-known they are or busy they seem, you never know what connections you’re missing because you’re afraid to ask.

And I’m not saying ask directly to be their mentee. Because they are most likely busy, you should look to differentiate yourself as a potential mentee. Look for a way to add value to their life. Once you do so, you will find people wanting to guide you to help you accomplish your goals. 

2 ) Sign Up For a Networking Event

Don’t just sign up for a networking event — set a specific goal to attend one per quarter. 

Networking events are vital to the success of your business and career, and networking-specific events — which are filled with people who are also looking to network  — are often the easiest way to find like-minded individuals who can help you.

However, it’s important to realize that you don’t need to attend every event nor join every professional network. Not only is attending a large number of events significantly time-consuming, but not everyone you meet may be applicable for your professional career. Don’t overextend yourself for the sake of checking a box. 

Instead, consider setting a goal for how many people, who are applicable to your career, that you would like to meet. Then, if possible, identify four relevant networking events to attend this year. Better yet, identify a networking group that can immediately connect you with valuable professional connections, new leads, and quality referrals. 

3) Commit to following up

Always make sure you follow up, consistently. Too often we meet people with whom we plan to form a relationship, and we do follow up…but then we neglect to keep the conversation going after a few calls or emails.

The best practice is that you reach out within a week following an event or meetup. But you should continue reaching out throughout the year, even if nothing comes of that initial contact. Since it’s easy to forget or de-prioritize consistent follow-up, scheduling a specific time to do so will ensure it happens. Set a recurring reminder on your calendar to sit down and write an email/phone call/LinkedIn Message/special note to at least one person in your network every month.

By actually scheduling this event and making it happen at the same time every month, you can make sure that it gets done and becomes a habit. 

Stick to Your Goals

There are many ways to get help in sticking to your resolutions, such as setting realistic resolutions, not letting them stress you out, and prioritize them in order of importance.

One of the best ways to ensure you stay on track is by having a dedicated support network and built-in mentorship that can help you achieve your career goals. Since 2006, Biz to Biz Global Networking Group has been helping small member businesses grow and flourish through our unique training and referral system – just imagine what we can do for you. 

Please contact us to learn more.