Awhile back in You Should Network Offline More, I discussed the benefits of networking more often. Then just recently in Don’t NetWORK Too Hard, I mentioned there should be a cap to networking because you can overdo it and cause more harm than good. As a result of those articles I received an email so important I knew I had to share it with you. In the email the person asked. “How do I evaluate my networking groups so I can add or subtract activities or groups to hit the sweet spot?”

Start With Goals

Whenever I am problem solving, either in business or in life, I like to start with a baseline question. What are you hoping to achieve through your efforts? Are you looking to grow your business? Build your contact sphere? Make new friends? Perhaps you are looking to improve your speaking or networking skills to grow professionally. Regardless of the goals themselves, mapping out what you want to accomplish is a great starting point because it gives you a measuring stick. Once you have your goals laid out, you should put them in order of importance. I like to order my specific goals based on how much they move me toward my bigger picture goals. Then, in general, I choose to participate in groups and activities that bring me closer to my goals and reconsider those that don’t.

Consider Your Time Commitment

Once you have established your goals and you have determined which activities and groups are helping your progress, you’re ready for the next element. Time. Most people agree time is their most valuable commodity. We can’t get more of it, yet it seems we always need more. With that being said, I think the evaluation of your time commitment is a critical factor to get the best networking evaluation. For example, if participating in a particular group is taking up a large percentage of your time and it is only accomplishing one or two small goals, that group may not be a great choice. However, if the same group is helping you accomplish a large number and/or one of your most important goals then it’s likely worth your participation.

If you take into consideration your goals and the time involved in your networking activities, I bet it will quickly become apparent which ones you should continue and which ones you should quit. Now I know it’s not always that simple. There are some groups you can’t just walk away from, but that is discussion for another time.

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