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4 Quick and Effective Hacks for Successful Business Networking

4 Quick and Effective Hacks for Successful Business Networking

When I graduated from university, I wanted to be at every networking opportunity in the way that a small child wants to be at every birthday party. While all of the kids at a birthday would swing at a piñata for candy, all of the adults at a networking event are swinging at an invisible piñata of opportunity – so not too different, I guess. With a few spare minutes, I would search up every open networking brunch, party and event in Vancouver for that month. If possible, I would peruse into media meetups, and get myself onto lists for social hotspots where I could learn from other people, while also casually marketing myself to people I felt that I could work with.

With a few spare minutes, I would search up every open networking brunch, party and event in Vancouver for that month. If possible, I would peruse into media meetups, and get myself onto lists for social hotspots where I could learn from other people, while also casually marketing myself to people I felt that I could work with.

Finding a Better Balance

After speaking with several of my friends recently, it turns out that several of them are put off by the idea of a networking cocktail party, and I don’t blame them. After a while, making yourself consistently available during weeknights can be difficult, especially when you have other responsibilities and day jobs to be refreshed for. Not to mention knowing which chat topics work, when to throw your business card at someone, and being able to introduce yourself in a way that appears professional, yet relaxed and social.

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So I thought through which alternatives I have used and decided to make a list of quick networking tips for those who are tired of networking events and evenings, or for those who are perhaps not as comfortable in these settings. After all, it was thriving billionaire Richard Branson who suggested that a lack of life balance in ignoring our well-being may actually be what burns away our capabilities in the long term. For anyone aspiring to find a better balance, or find more time with your family, or even a few extra hours for the gym or the couch, this quick networking guide is for you!

  1. LinkedIn Messaging

One thing that I did do during my obsessive networking binge was gain connections through LinkedIn, and ACTUALLY converse with them; every conversation requires an initiation to begin, so I would direct questions to those who held impressive experiences under their name, in the hope that I could learn from them, and perhaps establish a mutual appreciation and understanding. This occurred on multiple occasions, and through this, I was able to gain advice I might not have found otherwise in my early twenties. I also gained access to more hush-hush events and hooked numerous tips on how to become more appealing in a professional sense.

Many of these individuals are people I am still in touch with today. So how do you decide who is best to contact? According to The Week, a great place to start is by envisioning that you have lost your job. Who would be the five to ten people you’d want to go to for advice? The worst thing that could happen is that they don’t have the time or desire to speak with you. At at that point, move on and connect with people who do want to speak with you!

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  1. Strategize Your Cocktail Party Endeavors

Given how effective personal connection can be, you could still attend a cocktail party, but with more premeditated thought. I know, many of you mentioned that you’re tired of cocktail evenings, but here’s where we can change it up. The Grindstone states that if you are able to research who is going to be there, and you find that there are three contacts that could drastically improve your vision and opportunity, focus specifically on finding and meeting them.

When I first started attending these types of events, I found myself trying to casually mingle with everyone, but this can be considered a weak approach, as receiving forty business cards is less powerful than three or four people who you made a deeper connection with through quick networking. If you know what you need to accomplish, make it happen, and deliver your message in a focused and direct way. This has you leaving earlier than you would have otherwise. Consider this as an ideal compromise.

  1. Follow Your Dream Contacts on Social Media

Sometimes, the best way to start a conversation is a post on social media, especially when it has been crafted by the person you are looking to connect with. According to Forbes, using social media to your advantage in business can allow for contacts to fall right into your lap. If someone posts something that you are curious about, ask them questions.

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If someone posts something that you enjoyed, share it and perhaps comment on how much you learned. Try to make this positive experience more about them, and less about promoting yourself. Surrounding yourself online with the content of clever people can also positively impact your thinking as well, and have you strive to be better at what you do.

  1. Encourage Conversation Through LinkedIn Pulse

If you already enjoy writing or are looking to learn from others, you might like the publishing feature on LinkedIn, known as LinkedIn Pulse. To summarize, you write and publish a blog-style post (often on something career-oriented that you are specialized in, or a response to something in the business world), and all of your connections are able to see it.

It might not seem like quick networking, but if you frame it to contain several questions, you may find that a few contacts reach out to you to give you their interpretation on your topic. Be sure to listen and show appreciation for their feedback (unless their feedback is highly rude and inappropriate). You can also send the link to your article to someone who you admire, and ask what their thoughts are on it.

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Conclusion

It seems that everyone can benefit from a dense network of compelling contacts. But not everyone is able to make the time to be out each night, networking until the break of dawn, and that is perfectly okay. Everyone is different, and there is not just one way to thrive and be successful. Hardcore attendance at local events worked for me, but so did quick networking. In fact, I was actually able to broaden my circle and establish more connections internationally, just by using these quick networking practices. If there are multiple methods to success, then why not sample the side that has your well-being in mind? it is important to acknowledge your health, as taking a break is professional, but burning out of steam on the job is not.

Featured photo credit: www.americancollegespain.com via americancollegespain.com

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Last Updated on March 25, 2020

How to Set Ambitious Career Goals (With Examples)

How to Set Ambitious Career Goals (With Examples)

Taking your work to the next level means setting and keeping career goals. A career goal is a targeted objective that explains what you want your ultimate profession to be.

Defining career goals is a critical step to achieving success. You need to know where you’re going in order to get there. Knowing what your career goals are isn’t just important for you–it’s important for potential employers too. The relationship between an employer and an employee works best when your goals for the future and their goals align. Saying, “Oh, I don’t know. I’ll do anything,” makes you seem indecisive, and opens you up to taking on ill-fitting tasks that won’t lead you to your dream life.

Career goal templates’ one-size-fits-all approach won’t consider your unique goals and experiences. They won’t help you stand out, and they may not reflect your full potential.

In this article, I’ll help you to define your career goals with SMART goal framework, and will provide you with a list of examples goals for work and career.

How to Define Your Career Goal with SMART

Instead of relying on a generalized framework to explain your vision, use a tried-and-true goal-setting model. SMART is an acronym for “Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic with Timelines.”[1] The SMART framework demystifies goals by breaking them into smaller steps.

Helpful hints when setting SMART career goals:

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  • Start with short-term goals first. Work on your short-term goals, and then progress the long-term interests.[2] Short-term goals are those things which take 1-3 years to complete. Long-term goals take 3-5 years to do. As you succeed in your short-term goals, that success should feed into accomplishing your long-term goals.
  • Be specific, but don’t overdo it. You need to define your career goals, but if you make them too specific, then they become unattainable. Instead of saying, “I want to be the next CEO of Apple, where I’ll create a billion-dollar product,” try something like, “My goal is to be the CEO of a successful company.”
  • Get clear on how you’re going to reach your goals. You should be able to explain the actions you’ll take to advance your career. If you can’t explain the steps, then you need to break your goal down into more manageable chunks.
  • Don’t be self-centered. Your work should not only help you advance, but it should also support the goals of your employer. If your goals differ too much, then it might be a sign that the job you’ve taken isn’t a good fit.

If you want to learn more about setting SMART Goals, watch the video below to learn how you can set SMART career goals.

After you’re clear on how to set SMART goals, you can use this framework to tackle other aspects of your work. For instance, you might set SMART goals to improve your performance review, look for a new job, or shift your focus to a different career.

We’ll cover examples of ways to use SMART goals to meet short-term career goals in the next section.

Why You Need an Individual Development Plan

Setting goals is one part of the larger formula for success. You may know what you want to do, but you also have to figure out what skills you have, what you lack, and where your greatest strengths and weaknesses are.

One of the best ways to understand your capabilities is by using the Science Careers Individual Development Plan skills assessment. It’s free, and all you need to do is register an account and take a few assessments.

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These assessments will help you determine if your career goals are realistic. You’ll come away with a better understanding of your unique talents and skill-sets. You may decide to change some of your career goals or alter your timeline based on what you learn.

40 Examples of Goals for Work & Career

All this talk of goal-setting and self-assessment may sound great in theory, but perhaps you need some inspiration to figure out what your goals should be.

For Changing a Job

  1. Attend more networking events and make new contacts.
  2. Achieve a promotion to __________ position.
  3. Get a raise.
  4. Plan and take a vacation this year.
  5. Agree to take on new responsibilities.
  6. Develop meaningful relationships with your coworkers and clients.
  7. Ask for feedback on a regular basis.
  8. Learn how to say, “No,” when you are asked to take on too much.
  9. Delegate tasks that you no longer need to be responsible for.
  10. Strive to be in a leadership role in __ number of years.

For Switching Career Path

  1. Pick up and learn a new skill.
  2. Find a mentor.
  3. Become a volunteer in the field that interests you.
  4. Commit to getting training or going back to school.
  5. Read the most recent books related to your field.
  6. Decide whether you are happy with your work-life balance and make changes if necessary. [3]
  7. Plan what steps you need to take to change careers.[4]
  8. Compile a list of people who could be character references or submit recommendations.
  9. Commit to making __ number of new contacts in the field this year.
  10. Create a financial plan.

For Getting a Promotion

  1. Reduce business expenses by a certain percentage.
  2. Stop micromanaging your team members.
  3. Become a mentor.
  4. Brainstorm ways that you could improve your productivity and efficiency at work
  5. Seek a new training opportunity to address a weakness.[5]
  6. Find a way to organize your work space.[6]
  7. Seek feedback from a boss or trusted coworker every week/ month/ quarter.
  8. Become a better communicator.
  9. Find new ways to be a team player.
  10. Learn how to reduce work hours without compromising productivity.

For Acing a Job Interview

  1. Identify personal boundaries at work and know what you should do to make your day more productive and manageable.
  2. Identify steps to create a professional image for yourself.
  3. Go after the career of your dreams to find work that does not feel like a job.
  4. Look for a place to pursue your interest and apply your knowledge and skills.
  5. Find a new way to collaborate with experts in your field.
  6. Identify opportunities to observe others working in the career you want.
  7. Become more creative and break out of your comfort zone.
  8. Ask to be trained more relevant skills for your work.
  9. Ask for opportunities to explore the field and widen your horizon
  10. Set your eye on a specific award at work and go for it.

Career Goal Setting FAQs

I’m sure you still have some questions about setting your own career goals, so here I’m listing out the most commonly asked questions about career goals.

1. What if I’m not sure what I want my career to be?

If you’re uncertain, be honest about it. Let the employer know as much as you know about what you want to do. Express your willingness to use your strengths to contribute to the company. When you take this approach, back up your claim with some examples.

If you’re not even sure where to begin with your career, check out this guide:

How to Find Your Ideal Career Path Without Wasting Time on Jobs Not Suitable for You

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2. Is it okay to lie about my career goals?

Lying to potential employers is bound to end in disaster. In the interview, a lie can make you look foolish because you won’t know how to answer follow up questions.

Even if you think your career goal may not precisely align with the employer’s expectations for a long-term hire, be open and honest. There’s probably more common ground than they realize, and it’s up to you to bridge any gaps in expectations.

Being honest and explaining these connections shows your employer that you’ve put a lot of thought into this application. You aren’t just telling them what they want to hear.

3. Is it better to have an ambitious goal, or should I play it safe?

You should have a goal that challenges you, but SMART goals are always reasonable. If you put forth a goal that is way beyond your capabilities, you will seem naive. Making your goals too easy shows a lack of motivation.

Employers want new hires who are able to self-reflect and are willing to take on challenges.

4. Can I have several career goals?

It’s best to have one clearly-defined career goal and stick with it. (Of course, you can still have goals in other areas of your life.) Having a single career goal shows that you’re capable of focusing, and it shows that you like to accomplish what you set out to do.

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On the other hand, you might have multiple related career goals. This could mean that you have short-term goals that dovetail into your ultimate long-term career goal. You might also have several smaller goals that feed into a single purpose.

For example, if you want to become a lawyer, you might become a paralegal and attend law school at the same time. If you want to be a school administrator, you might have initial goals of being a classroom teacher and studying education policy. In both cases, these temporary jobs and the extra education help you reach your ultimate goal.

Summary

You’ll have to devote some time to setting career goals, but you’ll be so much more successful with some direction. Remember to:

  • Set SMART goals. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, and Realistic with Timelines. When you set goals with these things in mind, you are likely to achieve the outcomes you want.
  • Have short-term and long-term goals. Short-term career goals can be completed in 1-3 years, while long-term goals will take 3-5 years to finish. Your short-term goals should set you up to accomplish your long-term goals.
  • Assess your capabilities by coming up with an Individual Development Plan. Knowing how to set goals won’t help you if you don’t know yourself. Understand what your strengths and weaknesses are by taking some self-assessments.
  • Choose goals that are appropriate to your ultimate aims. Your career goals should be relevant to one another. If they aren’t, then you may need to narrow your focus. Your goals should match the type of job that you want and the quality of life that you want to lead.
  • Be clear about your goals with potential employers. Always be honest with potential employers about what you want to do with your life. If your goals differ from the company’s objectives, find a way bridge the gap between what you want for yourself and what your employer expects.

By doing goal-setting work now, you’ll be able to make conscious choices on your career path. You can always adjust your plan if things change for you, but the key is to give yourself a road map for success.

More Tips About Setting Work Goals

Featured photo credit: Tyler Franta via unsplash.com

Reference

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