How much time do you spend outside of work networking? Do you see it as a drain on your time, or as an opportunity to foster relationships, explore new opportunities, and continue to grow professionally and personally? Follow these quick tips to evaluate whether or not your networks are working for you, and learn how to maximize your networks in the new year.
1. Identify your networks
Make a list of the organizations or networks you participate in, whether they pertain to work, community service, or worship. This exercise works best with three or more organizations. If you have more than five, you might really benefit from this exercise!
2. What value do you gain?
For each network, determine on a scale of 1-5 (1-low value, 5-high value) the value that you gain from participating in this network. Value may include, but is not limited to, new connections, job opportunities, or professional development.
3. What value do you give?
For each network, determine on a scale of 1-5 (1-low value, 5-high value) the value that you are able to give from participating in this network. The value that you give could include advancing communal goals, serving others, mentoring the next generation, or engaging in acts of worship. This is an important factor to consider, as altruistic activities can be deeply satisfying and rewarding.
4. The personal impact of your network
Now, take a deep breath, and step back. This is the time for brutal honesty. On a scale of 1-5, is your participation in this organization a 1 (burning you out or pushing you towards your limits), a 5 (refreshing, replenishing, or restorative), or somewhere in between?
5. Evaluate your results
Add the scores for sections 2, 3, and 4 up for each organization. Now, you have a way to evaluate your networks from a more objective standpoint. I’m not suggesting that you immediately get rid of any organization that scores between 3-6. However, you can consider your score in combination with the financial investment, as well as the time you devote towards this organization. You can choose the variables you use to measure your network, as many provide value that is difficult to quantify.
Which networks should you focus on moving forward?
You can use this approach for evaluating your current networks, then apply these considerations towards those you are looking to join. Do they line up with your personal goals and priorities? This should give you a barometer for deciding which networks are best for you to devote your energy towards in the new year. You can revisit your results once per quarter, or more regularly, to make sure you are continuing to maximize your networks in working to achieve your goals
What value are you gaining from your networks? Are your networks in line with your personal goals?
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