With all of the challenges and decisions professional women face daily, perhaps it is not surprising that evaluating and revising our networking habits is not on top of our “to-do” list. But our careers—and our lives—are constantly in transition. And because of that, it is especially important to regularly step back and evaluate your networking goals and strategies to make sure they are still relevant and delivering results.
Your circumstances, goals, priorities, and resources all change over time, so your networking practices should change as well. Too many people tend to simply renew memberships the same organizations, stay in touch with the same people, and attend the same events year after year simply because it is comfortable. What you may really need are new and different networking strategies that will help you be more successful today and get to where you want to go tomorrow.
You can start to make this change is by reviewing the organizations you belong to, the events you attend and the members of your network—both the inner and the outer circles. What were your original motivations for getting involved with these groups and building relationships with these individuals? Have they been an effective use of your time and money?
Now consider your current professional status and personal situation. Have there been major changes since you established your networking plan? Perhaps you have been promoted, changed industries, relocated to another city, re-joined the workforce after staying home with children or started your own business. Are your networking activities still relevant to your current position?
It is also important to evaluate your personal circumstances today. You might have gotten married, gotten divorced, bought a new home, started a family, been diagnosed with a health condition, or sent your kids off to college. These factors affect the time, energy and money you have to dedicate to networking, and must be taken into consideration.
Now establish your goals for networking today. What are you trying to accomplish? What do you hope to get out of each activity? Just as importantly, what do you plan to put into them? As you begin to set your new goals, you may need to do some research to find the organizations, events, and contacts that will help you attain them. It can be hard to let go of old networking activities, but stepping out of your comfort zone and pursuing new opportunities might be just what you need.
It is equally important to evaluate the people who are members of your network, and whether they are helping you reach your goals. You certainly do not have to leave your friends and professional associates behind; just make room for new ones. Times of transition are an especially good time to bring an infusion of new energy into your network, simply by meeting and getting to know new people in new environments.
The benefits of networking may seem intangible at times, which is why evaluating your results and revising your tactics will help keep you motivated and focused. If networking is no longer delivering the results you need, it is probably time to take a fresh approach.
By Marny Lifshen for w2wlink